Euro banknote counterfeiting still low, but rises in Germany

Around 331,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in the first half of 2017, a decrease on the same period of 2016, says the European Central Bank.

The decrease in the EU as a whole runs counter to a report by Germany's Bundesbank, which according to Bloomberg says it saw a near 9 per cent increase in the first half, meaning that around one note per 1,000 is faked.

The ECB says that the number of counterfeits "remains very low compared with the number of genuine banknotes in circulation, which has risen steadily ... since they were introduced." There are now over 20 billion euro banknotes in circulation, with a total value of more than €1.1trn.

The €20 and €50 notes continued to be the most counterfeited banknotes. Taken together, they accounted for 85 per cent of the counterfeits intercepted in the first six months of the year. Almost all of the counterfeits (nearly 97 per cent) were found in euro area countries, with a few found in non-euro using EU member states (around 2 per cent) and other parts of the world (1 per cent).

The reason for the disparity in Germany could be the national economy's reliance on cash, which means it has a high proportion of €50 notes in circulation and a much lower shift towards cashless transactions than other EU countries such as Sweden and Denmark, says new news wire.

The Bundesbank thinks the introduction of the Europa series €50 note in April with enhanced security features, will improve matters. The new Europa series currently comprises the €5, €10, €20 and €50 and will include the €100 and €200 banknotes in due course.

"All euro banknotes can be verified using the 'feel, look and tilt” method,' said the ECB in a statement, adding that it "encourages people to be vigilant when receiving banknotes."

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