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6 months ago, the ECB dropped the €500. So what ?

by Guillaume Lepecq | Jan 09, 2017

In May 2016, the European Central Bank announced that it would no longer issue €500 banknotes. The issuance will be stopped around the end of 2018, after the new €200 and €100 notes are introduced. However, the €500 remains legal tender.

Six months after the announcement, how has demand for the euro and for the € 500 evolved ?


  1. Demand for euro banknotes has continued to grow in 2016, but at a slower pace. In value, cash in circulation grew by 6.58% in 2015. In July 2016, the growth rate had slowed to 3.79%
  2. Demand for €500, which had been relatively flat since 2012, peaked in December 2015 at €306.8 million and has declined by 9% or €27 million since.
  3. The three denominations which have benefitted from the decision to stop issuing the €500, are the €100, the €50 and the €200 which have seen an increase of respectively €21 million, €16 million and €3 million.
  4. Demand for transactional denominations - €5; €10 and €20 - is still strong. In July 2016, the annual growth rates were respectively of 2.7%; 3.2% and 4.6%.
  5. In volume terms, annual growth reached 6.74% in July, significantly higher that growth in value.
  6. The number of €500 notes, dropped by 8.7% between July 2015 and July 2016. On the other hand, the number of €50; €100 and €200 grew by respectively 9.94%; 9.51% and 6.94%.

It is of course still early to assess the full impact of the ECB decision. Moreover, numerous factors also impact demand for banknotes. However, at this stage it appears that the €500 are being returned at a pace of about 9% per year and that they are being replaced by €50, €100 and to a lesser extent, €200 notes.




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