The European Central Bank launched the new 10 euro note this week, which will start to enter use on the 23rd of September. More colourful than the existing note, the aim is to make it easier to identify, and because it contains extra security features on both sides, to make life harder for counterfeiters.

According to figures released by ECB, a total of 670,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in 2013, a figure that represents an increase of 26.3% from the 531,000 recovered in 2012.

In the second half of 2013, a total of 353,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn, representing an increase of 11.3% from the 317,000 counterfeit notes recovered in first half of the year, showing how the problem is not only increasing, but the figures represent the highest level for a second half term since 2010.

However, despite the launch of the new 10 euro note, it is the 20 and 50 euro denominations that remain the most counterfeited in the second half of the year. There was a 43% increase in 20 euro notes, whereas the 50 note fell by 35%.

The 100 euro banknote is the third most counterfeited denomination, with 12.9% of the total, followed by 10 euro, where the percentage has increased to 6.3%. Of the remaining denominations, the proportion of counterfeit 5 euro notes is 0.4%, 200 euro is 1.4% and 500 euro just 1%.

As the ECB presented the new 10 euro note, ECB board member Yves Mersch told the press that, “It certainly resembles the 10 euro notes you have in your pockets, with its [images of] distinctive Romanesque architecture. However, perhaps it will have more of a visual impact, as the images are larger and more defined, the colours are stronger and the bridge has added depth”.

You might also remember that the ECB launched a new five euro note last year, which features a hologram of Europa, a mythological princess symbolising the origins of Europe, but wasn´t without initial problems as a number of automated machines were unable to recognise it.

“The five euro and 10 euro notes are not always treated kindly. By protecting them better, we can prolong their service life and reduce their environmental impact”, Mersch added.

Introduced in 2002, the euro was first used in 12 countries, but is now the common currency of 18 states and 334 million people.

With around 15 billion banknotes in circulation worth over 900 billion, the euro is “broadly comparable” to the total value of available US dollar bills, Mersch noted.

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