When printing paper money is your core business, hyperinflation is your best friend and digital transactions are your worst enemy. How Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient has learned to thrive in a low inflation, electronic payments world.

If ever there were a business with dark clouds on the horizon, it should be printing paper currency, otherwise known as banknotes. In the United States the production of bills falls upon the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, but for much of the rest of the world— from Armenia and Peru to Thailand and Swaziland, money is actually printed by a handful of companies, dominant among them, Munich, Germany’s Giesecke & Devrient.

Last month, the 168-year-old printing company made its first investment into blockchain, leading a $17 million Series A into Metaco, a Swiss startup providing custody services for bitcoin and stablecoins, a new kind of cryptocurrency powered by blockchain but backed by fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar. Perhaps even more important, it would be a perfect complement to new software it unveiled in 2019 called Filia that enables central banks to use distributed ledger technology to issue digital versions of their own currency.

Already six of G&D’s central bank clients are in negotiations about using Filia to create their own central bank digital currency (CBDC), as China prepares to become the first nation to launch its own blockchain-based currency. According to CEO Ralf Wintergerst, the money creation business is on the verge of a technological revolution that merges the best of the physical world with the best of the virtual.

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