Cash is the Most Secure Form of Payment

calendar iconMar 12, 2021


Counterfeit euro banknotes withdrawn from circulation hit a historic low in 2020, according to the European Central Bank (ECB), down nearly 18 percent from 2019. Of the 460,000 counterfeits seized, two thirds were €20 and €50 notes. Almost 95 percent were found in euro area countries, with the remainder split fairly evenly between non-euro area EU Member States and other parts of the world.

Given there are over 25 billion euro banknotes in circulation, the likelihood of receiving a counterfeit is very small, with just 17 counterfeits detected per million genuine notes last year.

To ensure cash remains a safe and trusted means of payment, the ECB has given its banknotes enhanced security features, with new €100 and €200 notes upgraded in 2019. Since cash benefits from cutting-edge technological innovations, it is also easy to check its authenticity with a simple ‘feel, look and tilt’ technique described on the ECB website.

Number of counterfeits detected annually per 1 million genuine notes in circulation. Source: European Central Bank

The counterfeiting report comes as the ECB is due to decide shortly whether to launch a project to create a digital euro, which could be used alongside cash and other existing payment methods. Whatever the decision, the ECB remains committed to protecting people’s right to pay in cash and supporting access to cash services for all.

If and when we have a digital euro, we will nonetheless always have banknotes.
"Christine LagardePresident, European Central Bank
Last Updated: Mar 11, 2021