Seizures of counterfeit euro banknotes at their lowest in 2020
The number of counterfeit euro banknotes seized in 2020, mainly denominations of 20 and 50 euros, reached an all-time low in relation to the denominations in circulation, according to figures released Friday by the European Central Bank (ECB).
In total, some 460,000 false denominations were withdrawn from circulation last year, after 559,000 and 563,000 units respectively in 2019 and 2018.
In other words, “17 counterfeits were detected for 1 million genuine banknotes in circulation, a historically low level”, underlines the institute.
The 20 and 50 euro banknotes are the most counterfeit values, representing more than two thirds of seizures (67.2%).
“The probability of receiving a counterfeit is very low,” considers the institute, given the 25 billion genuine banknotes in circulation in 2020, a figure which has continued to increase since their introduction in 2002.
In recent years, the ECB has gradually provided the euro area with new banknotes with reinforced security features, the last ones to be renewed having been the 100 and 200 euros in 2019.
The work of counterfeiters has thus been made more difficult.
Only the issue of 500 euro banknotes has not been renewed, this cut being accused of playing into the hands of traffickers of all stripes.
This decision taken in 2016 had aroused the ire of some in Germany, who feared that it was only a first step towards the total disappearance of physical money.
The downward trend in cash in current payments accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the ECB must decide in the spring whether it launches its digital euro project, to serve — like banknotes — for daily payments.
“When we have a digital euro, we will still have banknotes,” ECB President Christine Lagarde assured Thursday.