The Bank of France, the central bank of the country, has reportedly decided to shut down more than one-third of its cash handling centres by the end of this year.

The decision is said to be in response to the continued decline in the use of currency notes and coins following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

The central bank will cease the operations of 14 out of the 37 cash handling centres in the country.

The banking watchdog estimated that nearly 40% of these facilities will be “underused” if it remained expansive, the report added.

The currency notes and coins are stocked in these facilities, replacing the damaged currency from circulation.

Bank of France MD of cash, branches and services Erick Lacourrege said that these closures are expected to impact 134 people at the central bank.

He added that these employees will be offered early retirement packages, retraining for other jobs, or posts in cash centres that are still open.

The cash usage in France has declined by 20% between 2012 and 2019. This year, the regulator expects a further drop of 25%.

Lacourrege said: “There is a generalized decline in the use of cash throughout the world.

“The speed of decline is not the same in every country, and France is one place where it is falling the fastest in the euro area.”

Netherlands and Finland are the European countries where people have traditionally preferred using cards over cash, while Germany, Spain and Italy have been slower in mitigating the use of cash and coins.

The central bank of France has denied there are any risks using banknotes, however, there are concerns over contagion via the notes, according to Bloomberg.

Moreover, the Covid-related lockdowns have led more shoppers to use online platform for their purchases, as well as, the increasing demand of contactless payments have encouraged card use.