In 2023, the Bank of Canada continued to:

  • provide Canadians with secure bank notes
  • monitor the payment preferences of Canadians
  • research the future of cash

The Bank also conducted research to better understand and reduce the environmental impacts caused by producing and distributing bank notes. At the same time, the Bank began work on a new design for the $20 bank note, and staff continued to explore the possibility of a Digital Canadian Dollar.

Currency is one of the Bank’s five main areas of responsibility. Learn more about the Bank’s core functions.

Meeting the demand for cash with bank notes Canadians can trust

The Bank continued to supply financial institutions with bank notes to meet the demand for cash. Roughly 3 billion bank notes were in circulation in 2023.

Surveying Canadians about cash use

The Bank regularly surveys consumers and businesses to better understand how and why they use cash. This information helps the Bank assess Canadians’ awareness of, attitudes toward and behaviours around bank notes.

The results of the Bank’s 2022 Methods-of-Payment Survey show that many Canadians still use cash and that 80% of consumers have no plans to go cashless.

Meanwhile, cash acceptance remains almost universal across businesses in Canada. Results from the 2023 Merchant Acceptance Survey reveal that 96% of small and medium-sized businesses accept cash.

The Bank conducts the Bank Note Confidence Survey twice a year to assess public confidence in the authenticity of bank notes. In 2023, roughly 96% of Canadians expressed confidence that the bank notes they use are real. This aligns with a low counterfeiting rate of 7 parts per million (ppm)—well below the Bank’s benchmark of 30 ppm.

Canada’s bank notes, including the vertical $10 note featuring Viola Desmond, highlight Canadian achievements around the country, around the world and even in space.

Informing decisions through research

The Bank conducted research to better understand:

  • the use, availability and acceptance of cash in Canada as well as trends in payment preferences
  • changes in the regulatory landscape for national and international cash systems
  • the ownership of digital currencies and cryptoassets in Canada as well as the implications of fintech innovations for financial stability
  • the policy, economic and technical implications of a Digital Canadian Dollar, including its potential effects on private banks
  • the latest innovations in bank note security features to guard against counterfeiting
  • options to make the life cycle of a bank note more environmentally sustainable

Exploring a Digital Canadian Dollar

Through policy, economic and technical research, the Bank continued to explore the possibility of a digital form of the Canadian dollar. This potential form of money would:

  • be issued by the Bank
  • provide benefits similar to those provided by cash—in other words, it would be:
    • safe
    • universally accessible
    • private

As part of its ongoing consultation on a potential Digital Canadian Dollar, the Bank invited Canadians to participate in a survey to share their views and perspectives. The survey focused on what features would matter most to Canadians if Parliament and the Government of Canada were to decide that a digital form of the Canadian dollar is needed. The consultation generated almost 90,000 responses.

In November, the Bank published a report summarizing key takeaways from its outreach activities on this topic over the past two years.

Designing the next $20 bank note

On May 6, 2023, the day of King Charles III’s coronation, the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada announced that a portrait of His Majesty would be featured on Canada’s next $20 bank note. The Bank initiated the design process for the new note, which will feature a significant step up in security, have a vertical design and be made of polymer.

Greening Canada’s bank notes

The Bank launched a project to identify opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste from producing, distributing and recycling bank notes. This work aligns with the Bank’s climate change strategy as well as with the Government of Canada’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Looking forward

In 2024, the Bank will continue to:

  • research the use, availability and acceptance of cash in Canada as well as trends in payment preferences
  • investigate trends and changes in the regulatory landscape for national and international cash systems
  • engage with financial institutions, the broader cash industry and others who play a role in cash system infrastructure to prepare for the future of cash
  • conduct policy research and analysis to inform planning for any future Digital Canadian Dollar, including technical design work and monitoring of the payments landscape
  • work on the next $20 bank note

More information

Methods-of-Payment Survey

Merchant Acceptance Survey

Bank Note Confidence Survey

Cryptoasset Ownership and Use in Canada: An Update for 2022

How Far Do Canadians Need to Travel to Access Cash?

Unmet Payment Needs and a Central Bank Digital Currency

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