The introduction of the common currency in the euro zone on January 1st, 1999 was inevitably followed by the death of all national currencies previously used in the 19 member states. Central banks adopted different policies regarding the redemption of previous banknotes and coins, with varying deadlines.
Although the euro was quickly adopted by the population, central bank figures demonstrate that more than 15 billion euros of outdated national banknotes and coins are still circulating outside the banking system. Half of the amount is believed to lie in Germany, where cash is by far the preferred payment instrument. In addition, a great number of Italian liras, French francs and Spanish pesetas have not been handed in yet.
Of the 19 central banks, 12 are not redeeming coins anymore and the period for exchanging old banknotes has expired in France, Italy, Finland and Greece. As a consequence, about 5 billion euros-worth of national currencies are now worthless. Nevertheless, the majority of central banks chose to do without deadlines and will exchange the old notes “indefinitely”. This is notably the case of Germany, Belgium, Austria and Ireland. To know more about the different time limits by country, click here.
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