Banknotes are surplus to requirements in Europe and in space; Swiss banking is losing its appeal; while Paris flutters its eyelashes at British bankers.
While countries such as Canada, Singapore, Sweden and the U.K. are contemplating the future of banknotes, Denmark is close to launching a virtual currency that would replace paper money, Bloomberg News reports. The country's central bank reportedly says "blockchain technology, or a variety of that" might be a good substitute for cash payments, which by now make up only about 20% of all financial transactions in Denmark and cost society more than card payments. Replacing them altogether with blockchain or similar traceable technologies now rests on the question whether citizens trust the government enough to accept that their payments can be tracked, Bloomberg says. Lasse Birk Olesen, co-founder of fintech firm Coinify, tells the news agency that this should be less of an issue in Europe than it would be in countries such as Venezuela, but Danish central bank governor Lars Rohde sees potential ethical dilemmas.
Dr. Kartik Vasantmadhav Hegadekatti of India's Ministry of Railways broadly shares the Danish view on banknotes as he considers their usefulness outside our immediate environment and comes to the conclusion that "[i]t will be logistically and economically inappropriate to carry paper money or coins during space travel." While not explaining why the ministry of railways would ponder this question, Hegadekatti claims in his research paper that it would cost $1 to transport a bill of that amount into space, which effectively means it would be worth $2 beyond Earth. Therefore, he argues, "cryptocurrencies will be best suited to be the mainstream bills of exchange in extraterrestrial settlements." Even contactless payments would be a no-go because card readers would be "cumbersome to carry space-wise," he says, pun apparently not intended.
Closer to home, Paris is starting to appeal more and more to London-based banks and asset managers that are considering relocating in the wake of the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU, the Financial Times reports. That is because center-right candidate François Fillon -- who advocates corporate tax breaks and raising the French working-hour limits -- is now the favorite to win France's presidential elections next spring, replacing Socialist François Hollande, who had at one stage proposed a 75% wealth tax. For U.K.-based asset managers the appeal of the City of Light also lies in the fact that post-Brexit regulations might make it harder for them to sell products in the EU.
Paris certainly seems like a more attractive destination for bankers than Switzerland right now, as a "cultural shift" since the financial crisis has "upended" the country's banking sector, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google Inc. now pips Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS Group AG to the top spot in a yearly ranking of Switzerland's favorite employer for business students, as staff at large banks "find themselves buried in regulations" that suck the joy out of the work, the newspaper says. At the same time, Swiss lenders, which used to provide "a teenager-to-retirement career path" comparable to French government roles, now cut jobs and branches to an extent that "[l]ife for the archetypal Swiss banker just isn't what it used to be," it adds. As a result, many are "leaving the golden cage," ex-UBS executive director Niloo Verma Bruppacher tells the Journal. But University of Zurich lecturer Tobias Straumann says a positive side-effect is that with more young people seeking a career outside banking, the previously somewhat one-dimensional Swiss economy could be headed in "more creative directions," the newspaper adds.