Banknotes and Coins
Banknotes and coins (commonly known as cash) are the most widely used means of payment in daily transactions, especially at retail level. There is, however, growing utilisation of electronic means of payment in developed economies.
Cash is a traditional and popular means of payment, characterised by its high security level, ease of use, confidentiality and immediate liquidity. These characteristics confer on it an extremely important role in the operation of the economy.
The different means of payment available – cash, cheques and electronic means of payment – should be used in an efficient and rational manner, adjusting each of them to the specific type of transaction, as appropriate.
With the introduction of euro banknotes and coins on 1 January 2002, European Union Member States that adopted the euro began using a common currency that is widely used at international level, and that has brought unequivocal economic and social advantages for citizens in these countries. At present, the euro area is composed of 17 countries, following the accession of Slovenia (1 January 2007), Cyprus and Malta (1 January 2008), Slovakia (1 January 2009), and Estonia (1 January 2011). After a decade in circulation, the euro is considered in Europe and the rest of the world as a stable currency and, as such, has attracted the attention of counterfeiters.
To ensure the integrity of euro banknotes, the European Central Bank and the Eurosystem’s national central banks have decided to develop a new series of euro banknotes, the so-called Europa series.
If citizens are well acquainted with the characteristics of banknotes and coins they can more easily verify their authenticity. This will obviously reinforce their use as a secure means of payment.