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PRESS RELEASE

Finalisation of the 2008 euro cash changeover in Cyprus and Malta

4 February 2008

Following a one-month dual circulation period during which payments could be made in euro or in Cyprus pounds/Maltese liri, the euro became the sole legal tender in Cyprus and Malta on 1 February 2008. The progress made during the dual circulation period means that the euro cash changeover in Cyprus and Malta has been smoothly and successfully completed.

Timely and comprehensive preparation has been a key precondition for a smooth introduction of the euro banknotes and coins. The cash changeover evolved in both countries as planned and no unforeseen circumstances occurred. Hence there was no need for the changeover plans to be adjusted. The progress achieved during the dual circulation period bears witness to the efficiency and effectiveness of the preparatory work. As in the previous cash changeovers, the timely cooperation among all the main players – under the coordination of the central banks and the governments concerned – has been crucial.

Because of the consistent withdrawal of the national legacy banknotes and extensive frontloading of euro banknotes, around half of the banknotes in circulation in both countries were euro banknotes by the end of the first day. Around 80% of the national banknotes have now been withdrawn from circulation in both countries.

Towards the end of the dual circulation period, payments were being made almost exclusively with euro banknotes and coins, and already by mid-January automated teller machine withdrawals had stabilised at normal levels, which is an indication of a return to “business as usual”.

Euro counterfeiting has not been a matter for concern, and there were no major counterfeiting attacks during the cash changeover. The general response of the public to the cash changeover has been very positive in both countries.

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