Counterfeit Euros May Trigger Headache for Cash-Loving Germans

  • National 8.7% rise compares with drop in euro-area as a whole
  • Bundesbank expects new 50-euro banknotes to reduce forgeries

This news might not sit well with cash-loving Germans.

The number of counterfeit euro banknotes in Europe’s largest economy rose by 8.7 percent in the first six months of this year, even as they declined in the euro region as a whole. According to a Bundesbank report published Friday, this means about one note per 1,000 inhabitants in Germany is a fake.

Fifty-euro notes are by far the most popular with forgers, accounting for 47.6 percent of all counterfeits seized in the euro area, according to a separate publication by the European Central Bank, which said a total of 331,000 bills were removed from circulation so far this year. In Germany, the share of fake fifties is even higher at 63 percent -- a fact which could prove troublesome given the country’s extraordinary love of cash.

While a rise in counterfeit bills would probably barely register in countries like Sweden or Denmark, where societies are gradually going cashless, more than 80 percent of the Germany’s transactions are conducted using coins or notes, far above most of its peers.

To the institution in charge of printing and removing banknotes in Germany, the launch of a new bill with improved security features in April this year marks a sign of hope

“I’m expecting the number of the 50-euro counterfeits to go down in the second half of the year,” Bundesbank Board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele said, adding that the number of forged 20-euro bills dropped sharply after that banknote got a security upgrade in November 2015.

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