ECB to withdraw 500 euro banknote

The Wall Street Journal reports the European Central Bank (ECB) has agreed to withdraw its highest-denomination piece of paper money, the €500 ($733 Cdn.) banknote nicknamed the “Bin Laden” because of its association with organized crime and terror financing.

At the ECB’s recent council meeting in Frankfurt, it decided the 500 euro banknote will no longer be produced or circulated after 2018.

According to the ECB, the high-denomination banknote was the preferred choice for those pursuing illicit activities.

“The issuance of the €500 will be stopped around the end of 2018, when the €100 and €200 banknotes of the Europa series are planned to be introduced. The other denominations – from €5 to €200 – will remain in place.

“In view of the international role of the euro and the widespread trust in its banknotes, the €500 will remain legal tender and can therefore continue to be used as a means of payment and store of value.”

Despite the bank’s reasoning, the move has been met with controversy in Germany, where cash payments remain common (it’s used in upwards of 70 per cent of all purchases, according to Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank).

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