Swiss banknote of 1,000 francs considered useless by a critic

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It is possible that the 1,000 Swiss franc note, one of the highest denominations in the world, is about to disappear, although the Swiss National Bank has made no official statement.

Although there is no official word, Clare O’Dea, an Irish writer who has lived in Switzerland since 2003 and has covered Swiss politics, culture and economics for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, says so. in an opinion piece for the Swiss online newspaper, LeLocal.ch.

She asks why such a denomination is needed, if the Federal Reserve $100 note is good enough for America, the €200 note works in the Eurozone and the British get by with just a £50 note from the Bank of England. She admits she has never seen a 1,000 franc note and that such high denominations are not the norm, citing Singapore and Brunei as the only countries not susceptible to high inflation that now issue banknotes with such high face values.

Supporting her belief in the imminent withdrawal of the 1,000 franc note, she cites as evidence that such a large denomination is not necessary for legitimate business, but that “there are tax evaders, money launderers and other criminals who find large bills very useful.”

O’Dea says this is why the European Central Bank discontinued the €500 note in 2019, although the notes remain legal tender. She says the value had become so popular with criminal gangs within the European Union that it was embarrassing.

Its own statistics confirm, however, that the 1,000 franc note remains popular in Switzerland, where 60% of the value of all francs in circulation are in 1,000 franc notes, or in number 9.4% of all physical banknotes. She forgets to mention that this is small compared to $100 bills in the United States, which represent about 80% of the American currency in circulation. According to the Federal Reserve System, as of December 31, 2020, of $2,040.7 billion in circulation, $1,636.8 billion was in hundreds, and the $100 note also ranks as the most printed note. Most $100 bills, to be fair, are used in foreign countries.

Proponents of the 1,000 franc note have mentioned that in an era of low or even negative interest rates, the banknote is as good a store of value as a bank account. O’Dea acknowledges that she “heard” the notes are handy for big-ticket items such as cars and jewelry, and that farmers can use them to buy livestock. She apparently never had the pleasure of visiting a numismatic fair, where they are regularly seen.

Instead, she argues that cash-based financial practices are becoming obsolete except for tax evaders, money launderers and other criminals for whom big bills are close at hand, and that “cash is not no longer king in Switzerland”.

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