In September 2022, CashEssentials hosted a Futures Literacy Lab on the role of cash in the future monetary landscape in association with the UNESCO Chair for the Future of Finance. During this IACA webinar, the lab facilitators will show how futures literacy provides a rigorous framework to imagine the future of cash and share some of the key takeaways from the lab.

The future of cash is of obvious and critical importance for all stakeholders in the cash cycle but how can we effectively integrate the future into policy, business strategy and action plans? What frameworks, tools, and processes enable us to better understand the implications of a necessarily imaginary future?

Is it the forecasts that central banks develop and finetune? Could it be the diverse scenarios that are generated by events such as the Global Financial Crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic? Is there some way to predict the unexpected, such as the double-digit growth of cash in circulation experienced by 75% of the world’s currencies in 2020?

Some people put their faith in algorithms and artificial intelligence, hoping they will provide the capability to predict the future. But human behaviour and the complex emergent systems of our collective activities are not predictable. The only certainty is uncertainty.

Science-fiction offers an example of why it is both difficult and important to imagine different futures. The 1887 novel by Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward predicted the adoption of credit cards in 2000. In Star Wars, on the other hand, the Galactic Credit Standard is backed by a rare metal. In the 2011 dystopian film, In Time, fiat currency has been replaced by time as each person has a clock on their arm which measures the amount of time they have to live. Such imagined futures alter what we expect, but also what we decide in the present.

In 2022, CashEssentials hosted a futures literacy lab, in association with the UNESCO Chair for the Future of Finance to imagine the role of cash in the future monetary landscape.

Futures Literacy Laboratories are an advanced, field-tested methodology for exploring these questions and gaining new insights into the nature and impact of imagined futures. During the Lab participants deploy their collective intelligence to present and assess probable and desirable futures. Using action-research/action-learning tools the Lab offers the opportunity to analyse the burning questions facing the future of cash. For instance, the fundamental ethical issues related to the future of cash, ranging from loss of privacy to concentration of knowledge and data. The Lab takes participants beyond deterministic extrapolations and techno-fatalism to examine changes that are inspired by open and creative futures.

The Lab was moderated by Riel Miller, Senior Fellow at the Ecole des Ponts Business School and one of the world’s leading strategic foresight designers. Sessions were facilitated by futurists – Martin Calnan, UNESCO Chair for Futures Literacy; Petteri Lillberg, Demos Helsinki – and experts from the cash community – Katrina Brendle, Deutsche Bundesbank; Päivi Heikkinen, Bank of Finland; Antti Heinonen, former director of Banknotes at the ECB; Guillaume Lepecq, CashEssentials; Richard Wall, former Head of Currency at the Bank of Canada; Alex Bau, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

During this webinar, the panel will discuss how futures literacy provides a tool to improve our perception of possible, plausible and desirable futures for cash. Key take-aways from the lab will be shared and discussed.
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    Martin Calnan
    UNESCO Chair for Futures Literacy
    Martin has an eclectic background. His professional journey, spanning over 25 years, has taken him from marketing of luxury products to founding a digital agency, by way of developing indoor climbing centers and consulting… A not so direct, but maybe fitting, trajectory to his present role as Director of Executive Education at Ecole des Ponts Business School in Paris, where he has the enviable mission of creating new and transformative experiences for executives around the world.
    He is also the chaired professor of futures literacy of the UNESCO Chair for the Future of Finance at the business school.
    Martin holds a Bachelors degree from Stanford University and an MBA from Bocconi University in Milan. He is currently a doctoral candidate researching the impact of anticipation in our ability to change, as individuals, organizations and society.
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    Antti Heinonen
    President of the Banknote Ethics Initiative; former director of Banknotes at the ECB
    Antti Heinonen has been the chairman of the Banknote Ethics Initiative since its inception in 2013. He was the chairman of the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, reporting to G10 Governors, between 2008 and 2012 and the Director, Banknotes at the ECB from 1998 until 2008. He chaired the Banknote Committee of the European System of Central Banks for more than 10 years and the Eurosystem Cash Changeover Co-ordination Committee in 2001 and 2002. Prior to joining the ECB he was the chief cashier for the Bank of Finland. He holds degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Helsinki, and has written several books on banknotes and their history.
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    Guillaume Lepecq
    Chair of CashEssentials
    Guillaume Lepecq is a globally recognized expert on the subjects of cash and payments. Working primarily as a consultant over the last twenty years, Guillaume was appointed Chair of the CashEssentials Think Tank in February 2018.
    Guillaume has specialized in retail transactions, including both cash and electronic payments. He has spent the last twenty years advising financial institutions and payment service providers throughout the world on their payment strategies.
    Guillaume has written a number of publications and reports detailing the role of cash in society and the means by which it flows across the economy including: “The Future of Cash? A novel Approach to Re-Imagining the Future”; “Cash Essentials - Beyond Payments”, “The Future of Cash”, “The Future of Smart Payments” and “Managing the Changeover to the Euro”.
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    Richard Wall
    Chair of IACA; former Head of Currency at the Bank of Canada;
    Richard Wall recently retired from the Bank of Canada after 28 years of service. During his career, he has held various positions within the Corporate Services and Currency departments. In 1990, he was Building Consultant leading the design and construction of the cash processing centers in Montreal and Toronto. In 1998, he was appointed project manager for the New Note Series Project and joined the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG) as project director in 2001.  He became Director of Currency Operations in 2004, responsible for banknote production and distribution. In this role, he undertook the redesign of the bank note supply chain, including leading the negotiations for major service and supply agreements related to the new polymer banknote series.
    In 2013, he was appointed Managing Director of the Currency Department responsible for all aspects of the Bank of Canada’s Currency function. Under his leadership, the department reorganized to reflect the operational and budgetary impacts of polymer implementation, issued two commemorative notes and developed and produced the first note of the next polymer series.