Book money

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Book money (also bank money (from  Italian  giro  [ ˈdʒiːɾo ] "circle, circulation" to  Greek  gȳrós (γυρός)  "round") or commercial bank money ) is, as a claim on cash, a means of payment that is used in banking by transferring from current account to current account by means of postings can be used. As an economic aggregate , it is compared to cash .


The book money gets its name from the cashless booking from account to account. In terms of material, it is no longer in book form, as its historical name suggests, but in databases . The transfer itself takes place in the cashless payment transactions of the credit institutions using payment instruments such as transfer , check , direct debit , bills of exchange , bank cards or credit cards . In the case of a transfer, for example, the debtor instructs his account-holding bank to transfer a certain amount of money to a certain account of the creditor at a certain bank. As a result , the debtor fulfills his monetary debt to his creditor without cash being used.


Book money is created by depositing cash into a bank account , but mainly through the granting of credit by the credit institutions, which thereby create money . In the end, credit is usually granted by a bank making book money available to its borrower by crediting his or her bank account. The bank balances created through credits are called sight deposits and form the largest part of the book money. In fact need to prospective book money also granted to the bank's customers, not yet exploited credit lines ( overdraft , overdraft ) and term deposits and savings deposits of non-banks be expected.

Book money has a significantly higher share of the total “money in circulation for payment purposes” than cash. In August 2013, the total volume of sight deposits alone was “In the euro area, at 4858 billion euros, five times as large as the currency in circulation at 957 billion euros.” Book money is available at all times for cashless payments, but also for cash withdrawals. Since sight deposits can be converted into cash at any time by withdrawing them, they are known as potential cash. Book money and cash make up the entire money supply of the non-banking sector. This amount of money is therefore not changed by deposits or withdrawals of cash.

Payment function

Book money is not a legal tender and therefore does not trigger any obligation to accept it from the creditor. It should be noted that the recipient bank is not a “third party” within the meaning of Section 362 (2) of the German Civil Code (BGB), but merely acts as the creditor's paying agent . The required consent of the obligee for a transfer can be tacitly seen in the disclosure of his current account on business letters or invoices . In the case of a bank transfer, in the absence of any other agreement, the success of the service required for the fulfillment will only be achieved if the obligee finally receives the amount owed at his disposal. This is the case when the transferred amount is credited to the creditor's account and the creditor has sole power of disposal over the account (ie individual account or "or" account for the joint account ). The prevailing opinion sees cashless payment transactions as a performance rather than fulfillment , because book money was paid instead of the cash owed. The performance in lieu of performance requires an agreement between the creditor and the debtor ( Section 364 (1) BGB), which can be implied by specifying the account. The repayment effect occurs through the performance in lieu of fulfillment.

Regardless of these legal, but hardly effective, barriers, most of the payment obligations in modern economies are settled with book money. So that the book money can fulfill its function as a means of payment, the banking system ensures that it circulates between the bank accounts in the giro traffic ("giro traffic" from Italian giro , "round trip").

Due to the spread of current accounts with the possibility of non-cash payments in exceptional cases, a cash payment can be excluded as the fulfillment of performance (contract in labor and tenancy agreements ; by law as in § 224 para. 3 sentence 1 AO , § 51 Abs. 1 BAföG , Section 117 (1) sentence 2 ZVG ). If the obligee requests cashless payment in employment or rental contracts or in invoices, a cash payment made nevertheless is not subject to any obligation to accept; the monetary debt only expires with cashless payment.


The decisive advantage of a book money payment is its security, because no cash that is at risk of theft or any other risk of loss has to be held. The payment transaction with book money is only slightly slower than the direct payment with cash. Since book money is a claim made by bank customers on their bank, these claims are subject to the risk of bankruptcy for a credit institution. This is countered with partial or full deposit insurance . Book money also triggers transaction costs ( booking item fee , account management fee ). The risk of a misallocation of remittances transfers on grounds of classification as Bringschuld basically the debtor, so that this case of faulty execution of the transfer according to § 675y to transfer amount gets reimbursed by the bank managing the para. 1 BGB. However, such a payment attempt is not sufficient to fulfill an obligation; rather, the creditor must be able to freely dispose of the payment amount on his current account. Book money is not physically visible like cash, but appears as credit in bank accounts in the bank statement . Book money transactions are transparent and can therefore be fully traced in criminal or criminal tax matters. That is the reason why cash payments are preferred in the shadow economy and in illegal work .

If all customers withdraw their sight deposits in cash within a short period of time ( bank rush ), the bank can run into payment difficulties because its own stocks of central bank money are insufficient and it can not convert its other assets into central bank money quickly enough. In this case, she can temporarily borrow money from the central bank.


With the increasing use of bank money since the 1970s, money transactions and the real economy became decoupled. Not only do banks always need new money, but also states in order to keep their mountains of debt under control. Since book money is a claim made by bank customers on their bank, these claims are subject to the risk of bankruptcy for a credit institution.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Egon Görgens, Karlheinz Ruckriegel, Macroeconomics , 10th edition, 2007, UTB, ISBN 978-3825283506
  2. J. Altmann: Arbeitsbuch Volkswirtschaftslehre / Wirtschaftsppolitik , UTB 1993
  3. Time and savings deposits are not primarily used for payment transactions, but can be converted into sight deposits at any time
  4. Deutsche Bundesbank (Ed.): Geld und Geldpolitik (student book for upper secondary level) , as of November 2014, p. 56 (7 MB, PDF)
  5. a b Guido Toussaint, The Law of Payment Transactions , 2009, p. 11.
  6. BGHZ 72, 316, 318
  7. BGH NJW 199, 210
  8. BGHZ 103, 143, 146 = NJW 1988, 1320
  9. a b Peter Schlechtriem, Law of Obligations, General Part , 2005, p. 185