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Upgraded €100 and €200 banknotes with increased security features and better endurance for wear and tear are coming into circulation as of 28 May. The European Central Bank (ECB) talks to Business Malta about the reason behind revamping the banknotes and explains the production and distribution processes.

The €100 and €200 banknotes of the first series, like all the other denominations, will remain legal tender, which means that they will continue to circulate alongside the new notes and will be gradually withdrawn from circulation — so that their numbers will decrease over time.

“The periodic upgrade of security features is a normal development in the product lifecycle of the banknotes. Any central bank issuing banknotes replaces them with new or upgraded notes in regular time spans to safeguard their integrity,” the ECB says in a statement sent to Business Malta when asked to elaborate on the rationale behind the revamp.

The new banknotes use innovative security features and are easy to check using the “feel, look and tilt” method, the ECB says. Thanks to a satellite hologram and an enhanced emerald number, the banknotes are more resistant to counterfeiting.

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“The ECB and the national central banks of the Eurosystem need to stay technologically ahead of counterfeiters. That is why they decided to introduce the Europa series of the euro — i.e. the second series that is now completed with the entry into circulation oft he 100 and 200 notes —, so they fulfil their duty to safeguard the integrity of the banknotes by regularly upgrading and improving the design and security features,” the ECB statement sent to BM says.

Because the €100 is the third-most-widely used euro note, the demand for €100 and €200 banknotes is increasing at an annual rate of 7.6% for the €100 and 8.6% for the €200, according to figures by the ECB.

Staying up to date

The ECB expects the Europa series to allow the institution and national central banks in Eurosystem to keep pace with technological developments and maintain a high level of protection against counterfeiting. ECB underscores that this is the first time the €100 and €200 banknotes are upgraded since the euro banknotes were introduced in 2002. The lower denominations have been upgraded in the last six years, the first one being the €5 banknote in 2013.

Specimens of the upgraded €100 and €200 notes. (source: European Central Bank)

The new €100 and €200 notes, in addition, will be easier to handle and processed by machines, the ECB expects. Additionally, the new notes are smaller, so they should also fit better in people’s wallets and last longer, as they will be subject to less damage.

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Nevertheless, the changing of all the older euro notes to the new ones should be a lengthy process as the introduction of a new series depends on several factors — such as the counterfeiting threat and the availability of new technologies. At this point, the ECB cannot tell what the exact schedule for entirely updating to the new series will be.

“The production of euro banknotes is a combined effort by the national central banks and the ECB. It begins with calculations for the number of banknotes required each year. Forecasts of the demand for euro banknotes for the year ahead are provided by the national central banks and a central forecast is made by the ECB,” the statement by ECB clarifies the process.

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“In order to produce the banknotes efficiently, printing is shared among the different national central banks. The ECB allocates production volumes to a number of national central banks, which then supply a specific proportion of the total annual production of one or more denominations. The respective bank bears the production costs for the share allocated. There are 11 high-security printing works in Europe where banknotes are produced. The notes are subsequently distributed among the different national central banks,” the ECB adds.

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