Published: 05.04.2023

Aleksandrs Antiņš, Head of the Cash Technology Division of the Cash Department, Latvijas Banka

The euro continues to be a safe and reliable global currency. In 2022, 13 counterfeit euro banknotes per 1 million banknotes in circulation were detected (compared to 17 counterfeit banknotes per 1 million in 2020, 12 counterfeit banknotes per 1 million in 2021, and 48 counterfeit banknotes per 1 million banknotes in circulation in 2014, when Latvia joined the euro area).

Even in Latvia, we are used to it and take it for granted: not only is the number of counterfeits negligible, but we are also among the safest countries in the euro area. In 2022, 889 counterfeit currency units were detected in circulation, including 433 counterfeit banknotes and 456 counterfeit coins. The number of counterfeit banknotes fell by around 13% during the year (497 counterfeit banknotes detected in 2021), while the number of counterfeit coins increased 2.2 times (206 counterfeit coins detected in 2021).

Given the decrease in the number of counterfeit banknotes detected, the financial loss caused by counterfeiting has decreased by around 2% (26.8 thousand euro in 2022 and 27.3 thousand euro in 2021). In 2020, 931 counterfeit euro currency units (706 banknotes and 225 coins) were detected, while the financial losses caused by counterfeiting amounted to 30.8 thousand euro.

Counterfeit 2 euro coins are the most common in Latvia (37% of the total), followed by counterfeit 50 euro banknotes (29%) and 20 euro banknotes (16%). In terms of the quality of counterfeits, low-quality "products" predominate.

In the euro area as a whole, 376 000 counterfeit banknotes were detected in 2022 (347 000 in 2021). In the euro area as a whole, the most frequently counterfeited banknotes were the 20 euro and 50 euro denominations (altogether around 2/3 of the counterfeit banknotes).

The euro is a secure currency, with security and design features that are well known to the public. Traditionally, in Latvia we have been very responsible regarding the security of our money, and it has been customary for shops to continue to use currency authentication devices since the introduction of the euro. At the same time, there is no reason to be complacent, especially as counterfeiters most often target the most vulnerable – children and the elderly. Each individual case of a counterfeit banknote or coin in the wallet, however, represents a real financial loss to the victim of such crime.

Although the overall volumes of counterfeit money are small, preparations for the development of the third series of euro banknotes have already started in the euro area. This will be a multi-year process in which the population of the euro area Member States, including Latvia, will be actively involved and consulted. Stay tuned!