Does the world really need a 500 Euro note (or other very high denomination notes)?

The €500 note, in use throughout the Eurozone, is one of the highest value banknotes in the world. It is worth around £388 or $563.

According to Europol, the European police agency, the €500 note accounts for a third of all the euro notes in circulation, despite their low public profile. About a fifth of all euro banknotes, in denominations from €50 to €500, are not held in Europe, raising suspicions that some of the notes are used by foreign criminals.

Of course, the problem is not just with the Euro note.

In an age of electronic payments and concern about the anonymity cash provides, many experts would like to see the higest-value notes in all major denominations scrapped. This week Peter Sands, the former chief executive of Standard Chartered, called for the abolition of the €500, $100, SFr1,000 and £50 notes, which “play little role in the functioning of the legitimate economy [and] a crucial role in the underground economy”. 

You can learn more about this problem and how it could be tackled in this article.

As an example of how high-value banknotes are exploited by the criminal class, consider when Spanish police raided the warehouse of Chinese businessman Gao Ping. They found €12 million in cash and his gang is accused of laundering €300 million a year. 

You can read more about Mr Gao in this article.


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