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Switzerland has bucked current trends by unveiling a new high-valued banknote. The new note is one of the world’s most valuable banknotes, worth 1,000 francs ($1,007, £764). The new design is slightly smaller than other Swiss notes and depicts a handshake beside a globe. The Swiss National bank (SNB) has reported that more than 48 million of these notes have already been released into circulation. This figure makes up about 60% of the value of all Swiss currency.

The launch of this new note comes at a time when cash is on the decline internationally. Many countries around the world are switching to different forms of electronic payment and phasing out large valued banknotes.

Switzerland, on the other hand, is going against the grain. SNB Vice-Chairman Fritz Zurbruegg has called cash in Switzerland a “cultural phenomenon”. He has also said that the new note “corresponds to what people want”. In a country where privacy, anonymity and total control over one’s property are highly valued, cash suits the Swiss. A large majority of  Swiss people have a feeling of security knowing cash is in their pocket rather than a card.

Keeping in line with the preference of cash, many banks in Switzerland will let people withdraw up to 5,000 francs a day from an ATM without notice. It would also not turn any heads to buy an item for tens of thousands with cash. Businesses have adapted as well, creating an environment where having to pay for a drink with a 100 franc note wouldn’t create animosity between you and the cashier.

In 2017, an SNB survey found that 70% of its 2,000 Swiss participants used cash for 70% of their transactions. Many Swiss people feel that cash makes it easier for them to keep track of their spending. Even amongst young people, cash is the preferred method of payment in Switzerland. Jane Kettner, 29, was quoted as saying, “When it’s electronic, you spend the money more easily”.

Other countries have begun moving away from large cash denominations because of the argument that high-valued notes make things easier for criminals. Large notes make it easier for them to both launder and hide money. In an effort to deter crime, 17 of the 19 central banks in the Eurozone have discontinued 500 euro notes.

Many Swiss strongly value the privacy and freedom that cash allows. If the country is ever to transition into more digital forms of payments, some compromises may need to be made. As the CEO of Foinder, a consultancy business based in Switzerland said, “For mass adoption to take place it depends on the trade-off between privacy, convenience, self-identity and the perceived value of cash as a protection against going into debt.” Foinder’s CEO believes it could be at least a decade before the Swiss make the switch.

Difficult words

Buck (v): To resist or oppose something.

Depict (v): To show or illustrate.

Circulation (n): The movement and exchange of something.

Phasing (v): Changing from one phase or stage to another.

Against the Grain: Doing something against tradition or what is common.

Anonymity (n): No one knowing who you are.

Animosity (n): The feeling of hostility.

Launder (v): To conceal where money originated from.

Consultancy (n): A business or person that gives expert advice.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: 

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Buck A. Uknown identity.
2. Depict B. To move around.
3. Circulation C. Hide money
4. Phasing D. Resist
5. Against the Grain E. Hostility
6. Anonymity F. Expert advice.
7. Animosity G. Changing
8. Launder H. Illustrate
9. Consultancy I. Opposite of tradition.

True or False?

1. Switzerland has unveiled a new type of credit card.  T / F

2. The new notes make up for less than half of the value of all Swiss currency. T / F

3. Most nations around the world are increasing their use of cash. T / F

4. Cash is an important aspect of Swiss culture. T / F

5.  Swiss people do not worry about privacy when it comes to their money. T / F

6. Most banks in Switzerland do not allow people to withdraw more than 50 francs a day.  T / F

7. The SNB is an acronym for the Swedish National Bank. T / F

8.  High-valued notes make it easier for criminals to move money. T / F

9. Most central banks in Europe have begun printing more and more high-valued notes.  T / F

10. The CEO of Foinder said that it could be more than 20 years before the Swiss adopt electronic payments. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. unveiling / by / current trends / Switzerland / new / has bucked / a/ high-valued banknote

2. smaller / is / slightly / than / The / design / Swiss / new / other / notes

3. up / figure / This / about / 60% / makes

4. cash / Many / it / Swiss / feel / easier / that / makes / people

5. for them / Large notes / it / both launder / and / to / hide money / make / easier

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: 

American English: 

Quoted Decline Participants
Transition Security Unveiling
Environment Convenience Argument

Switzerland has bucked current trends by (1)_____________ a new high-valued banknote. The new note is one of the world’s most valuable banknotes, worth 1,000 francs ($1,007, £764). The new design is slightly smaller than other Swiss notes and depicts a handshake beside a globe. The Swiss National bank (SNB) has reported that more than 48 million of these notes have already been released into circulation. This figure makes up about 60% of the value of all Swiss currency.

The launch of this new note comes at a time when cash is on the (2)__________ internationally. Many countries around the world are switching to different forms of electronic payment and phasing out large valued banknotes.

Switzerland, on the other hand, is going against the grain. SNB Vice-Chairman Fritz Zurbruegg has called cash in Switzerland a “cultural phenomenon”. He has also said that the new note “corresponds to what people want”. In a country where privacy, anonymity and total control over one’s property are highly valued, cash suits the Swiss. A large majority of  Swiss people have a feeling of (3)_____________ knowing cash is in their pocket rather than a card.

Keeping in line with the preference of cash, many banks in Switzerland will let people withdraw up to 5,000 francs a day from an ATM, without notice. It would also not turn any heads to buy an item for tens of thousands with cash. Businesses have adapted as well, creating an (4)______________ where having to pay for a drink with a 100 franc note wouldn’t create animosity between you and the cashier.

In 2017, an SNB survey found that 70% of it’s 2,000 Swiss (5)________________ used cash for 70% of their transactions. Many Swiss people feel that cash makes it easier for them to keep track of their spending. Even amongst young people, cash is the preferred method of payment in Switzerland. Jane Kettner, 29, was (6)___________ as saying, “When it’s electronic, you spend the money more easily”.

Other countries have begun moving away from large cash denominations because of the (7)_______________ that high-valued notes make things easier for criminals. Large notes make it easier for them to both launder and hide money. In an effort to deter crime, 17 of the 19 central banks in the Eurozone have discontinued 500 euro notes.

Many Swiss strongly value the privacy and freedom that cash allows. If the country is ever to (8)_______________ into more digital forms of payments, some compromises may need to be made. As the CEO of Foinder, a consultancy business based in Switzerland said, “For mass adoption to take place it depends on the trade-off between privacy, (9)_________________, self-identity and the perceived value of cash as a protection against going into debt.” Foinder’s CEO believes it could be at least a decade before the Swiss make the switch.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. How popular is cash in your country?
5. What is your preferred payment method?
6. Are you quick to adopt new technologies relating to finance?
7. How safe is banking in your country?
8. How popular are loans in your country?
9. Do you think large cash denominations like this should be eliminated?
10. How strong is the currency of your country?
11. Do you follow the changes in currency value?
12. Should more countries adopt the same currency like the Euro?
13. Is your country’s culture similar when it comes to money, preferring privacy and ultimate control?
14. Are ATMs easy to find in your country?
15. Are there fees at ATMs in your country?
16. What is the smallest and biggest valued note in your country?
17. Would you feel vulnerable or more secure with a large amount of cash in your wallet?
18. Is there any part of your country that you feel is behind the times?
19. Do you trust online banking or institutions such as Paypal?
20. Do you feel you would spend less money if you only used cash?