Update on the euro cash changeover
Almost one month after the introduction of the euro banknotes and coins, the vast majority of cash transactions in the euro area are being conducted in euro, despite the fact that in most euro area countries the respective legacy currencies are still legal tender. The wide-ranging success of the euro cash changeover is due to the thorough preparations of the parties involved. In conducting such a massive logistical operation, the Eurosystem, i.e. the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 12 national central banks of the euro area, had to take into account the different country-specific structures and scenarios, inter alia from a legal point of view, for more than 300 million citizens in the euro area and beyond. This major achievement would not have been possible without the meticulous preparations of the retail sector, credit institutions and other key sectors, as well as the swift acceptance of the public.
Even before 1 January 2002, or "E-day", almost 80% of the euro banknotes which are now in circulation, i.e. 6.4 billion euro banknotes worth some EUR 133 billion, had been frontloaded. With regard to the euro coins, more than 97% of those which are now in circulation, i.e. 37.5 billion coins with a total value of around EUR 12.4 billion, had been frontloaded. These logistics have contributed to the smoothness of the euro cash changeover. The high demand for starter kits, with 150 million being sold in two weeks, reflected the positive reaction of citizens to their new money. In addition, information campaigns, and in particular the Euro 2002 Information Campaign, contributed to familiarising the citizens with their new money ahead of the introduction date.
Since 1 January 2002 the euro cash changeover has progressed well and rapidly, without any major hitches. After only one week, more than 50% of transactions were being conducted in euro and the conversion of automated teller machines (ATMs) was finalised.
Some 8.1 billion euro banknotes are now in circulation, and the total value of banknotes in circulation today (including national banknotes) is similar to that in the same period in 2001. The value of the euro banknotes in circulation amounted to EUR 213 billion on 24 January 2002. The return of national currencies is continuing as foreseen. The total value of national banknotes in circulation declined from EUR 270 billion on 1 January 2002 to EUR 116 billion on 24 January.
The euro progress ratio – EPR – reached 65% on 24 January 2002, up from 33% on 1 January. The EPR mainly provides an indication of the pace of the logistics of the changeover. It also shows that although almost all transactions are being made in euro, a lot of legacy currency banknotes are still to be withdrawn from circulation. This is a demanding operation for the banks and cash-in-transit companies.
So far, only a few crude reproductions of euro banknotes have been put into circulation and were detected without difficulty.
The euro cash changeover is also progressing smoothly in countries outside the euro area, in particular in the accession countries, but is not yet complete.