[Dave Birch] After 140 years, the Dutch central bank has closed its last cash outlets. From now on, the money couriers in the Netherlands must all drive to either a bank money center or to Amsterdam (to deposit cash). But as is pointed out by the astute Linkdump, it’s odd that banks in, for example, Maastricht cannot deposit their euros in nearby Aachen or Brussels. This is apparently not allowed by the central banks. Meanwhile, electronic payments are governed by SEPA and have to work cross-border as they would domestically. So the central banks that are moaning about banks not making sufficient progress in harmonising European payments are unwilling to harmonise their own cash handling because of the potential job losses. It’s a funny old Europe.

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As Chris Pickles points out, there are a number of initiatives running in Europe at the minute, each of which has “an intrinsic tendency towards monopoly”.  SEPA: why not have just one big clearing house for the EU?  Securities settlement: why not just have one big CSD for the EU?  How will customers access these services? – why not just have one big network for the EU? And so on. If you’re a hammer, as the old saying goes, the whole world looks like a nail. In other words, if you are a centralised institution, then you tend to regard to solution to any problem as being more centralisation. I don’t want to make any particular sort-of-political point here — although I did once surprise an EU official who asked me “why don’t you support the idea of a single currency for Europe” by answering “because I don’t support the idea of a single currency for the UK” — but I do want to note that it seems to me that the overall trend of technology is surely in the opposite: decentralisation and distribution. This is why I don’t believe that the science fiction concept of some sort of “universal credit” throughout the galaxy will ever come to pass: the computers on the Enterprise will be trading between billions of currencies as it boldly goes where no central bank has been before.

Incidentally, the Monster Raving Looney Party — who have been in vanguard of so many changes in our country — think that Britain should leave the euro and instead invite European countries to join the pound. At $2.03, they might extend the offer to our transatlantic cousins.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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