Amid historic inflation, why are banknotes more popular than ever?

4 min readNov 24, 2022


Peter S. Brown, Senior Vice President, Sales at Noteworthy

This is not how your economics professor said it would play out. After decades of strong economic growth with negligible inflation rates, that old nemesis of the 1970s is back. When inflation rears its ugly head, we have been taught to keep our money in gold, commodities, real estate investment trusts and any asset class that had a realistic chance to keep up with or beat it. The asset class that would have the weakest performance in the face of inflation is, of course, cold hard cash.

So, how can we explain these two charts? On the one hand, inflation has eaten away 43% of the value of the US Dollar since 2000.

On the other hand, $100 physical US banknotes have never been more popular and in fact are accelerating shipments into the economy as inflation rises. In 2022, The US Federal Reserve counts over $2 trillion worth of US banknotes in circulation with the US $100 note inching closer to the $2 trillion mark all by itself.

Our new digital economy is not only disrupting traditional markets, but it seems to be turning many of the laws of economics on its head. It’s true that fiat banknotes can offer little protection in an inflation storm; however, the core attributes of the banknote could not be any better for addressing other real anxieties that exist today.

The rise of surveillance capitalism

It seemed too good to be true. Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and the like were delivering a world of convenience and new proximity to our friends, our passions and our curiosities. Then, Bruce Schneier astutely reminded us that, “if something is free, you’re not the customer; you’re the product.”

The truth is that we have given something of ourselves away to big tech, and, for better or worse, we have received benefits in return. But now people are seeing new realities in the world that are driving them to take a portion of their privacy back with products like Bitcoin. The recent fall of Alameda and FTX at the hands of Sam Bankman-Fried have reminded us that our institutions cannot always protect us in a crisis. In fact, they could very well work against our best interests. Examples include:

  • The Northern Rock bank run of 2007–2008 in the United Kingdom
  • The collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual in 2008 in the United States
  • The threat of winter blackouts across Europe in 2022 and 2023 in light of the war in Ukraine.
  • Lebanon’s seizure of all hard assets and ordering of a 93% currency devaluation in 2022
  • The Canadian government’s seizure of the crypto assets of striking truckers in Ottawa in 2022

The truth is, the unexpected can happen anywhere, and industrialized economies are by no means immune. To have control over your personal circumstances in a real crisis, you need money that you can transport and spend under any circumstances. As we can see with the growth of banknotes, people are willing to pay a premium for privacy if it brings them security in a crisis, even if it’s at the cost of severe inflation. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Physical possession ensures that no government, bank or exchange can electronically seize your assets.
  2. Banknotes are private and totally anonymous. Nobody can track your purchases or whereabouts with cash.
  3. Banknotes are fungible and can be exchanged for goods and services and are highly portable in a crisis. You can simply pick them up and take them with you.

Cryptonotes for a new world

Noteworthy is bringing to market a new line of central bank-quality “cryptonotes” that deliver all the privacy, fungibility and portability benefits of traditional fiat banknotes while also being an effective weapon against inflation. For the many who simply find digital cryptocurrencies too complex to engage with, physical cryptonotes provide an easy-to-understand format that offers a bridge for crypto to the masses.

Cryptonotes can be used in three ways:

  1. Stack and dollar cost average (DCA) cryptonotes over time to build a secure base of crypto assets that are truly free from any third party intervention.
  2. Exchange your cryptonotes for goods and services in the real world. Your counterparty can instantly confirm that the denominated funds are present in the corresponding public wallet address with the printed QR code before exchanging any valuable goods.
  3. Redeem your cryptonotes at any time directly into a digital wallet for free use in the digital world or conversion into fiat cash.

Cryptonotes are on sale today at