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Cash will not disappear from Switzerland, central banker says

FILE PHOTO: Vice-Chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) Schlegel, attends a news conference in Bern

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss National Bank believes physical cash will never disappear from use in Switzerland despite the rising popularity of payment apps, Vice Chairman Martin Schlegel said on Friday.

"We think cash will never disappear, or not in the foreseeable future," Schlegel told an event. "It is important for a large part of the population."

Countries like Sweden which have seen big declines in the use of cash in recent years still used physical money after reaching a certain level, he said.

Although the use of cash would fall in Switzerland over the long term, it was difficult to say where the base level in the country was, Schlegel added.

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Still, he warned against a negative spiral with a reduction of banking branches and cash machines leading to less use of cash.

The SNB monitored closely the provision of ATMs and bank branches in Switzerland, and would take action if the downward trend accelerated.

He declined however to talk about the impact of less bank branches following UBS's takeover of Credit Suisse last year, saying it was a business decision for UBS.

Schegel was speaking after the SNB published a report on payment methods in Switzerland.

"Monetary policy, as we implement with the SNB interest rate, and also with the foreign exchange interventions, is not affected by the decline in cash at the moment," he added.

(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Noele Illien)