Press Release of December 8, 1999



The Bank of Latvia has issued a new 2-lats coin. This coin was produced applying a modern technological solution, i.e., bimetal mintage. From now on, we will encounter three types of 2-lats circulation coins.

What makes this coin different?
The coin consists as if of two parts, each struck from a different alloy. Yellow metal has been used for the central circle, whereas the outer ring is made of a silvery grey metal, just like the previously issued 2-lats coins. The new coins are slightly larger than the old ones. While the basic design of the coin is borrowed from the 2-lats coin struck in 1992;, there are a few differences. To safeguard against forgeries, you should look at the edge of the coin - it must be corrugated and contain two inscriptions LATVIJAS BANKA (Bank of Latvia) separated by dots. On the old coins the inscription was placed on a smooth edge.

Why do we need new 2-lats coins?
In March 1993 the lats was put back into circulation, and since then inflation in Latvia has gradually decreased to reach the 3% level characteristic of developed economies. During the past six years the lats has held its own: since February 1994, the exchange rate of the lats against the SDR basket of major world has remained unaltered. This makes lats coins a valuable currency, and every effort should be made to protect them against forgery. To this end, it was decided to apply the latest minting technologies to produce a bimetal coin of two different alloys.

It should be noted, however, that Latvian currency is generally well protected against forgeries, and the amount of counterfeit Latvian banknotes and coins is so small that it has no effect on the country's. For instance, the number of forgeries discovered during the first ten months of 1999 account for only 0.002% of the currency in circulation at November 1, 1999. Moreover, counterfeit banknotes are practically non-existent. 2-lats coins are quite popular as a means of payment: they account for about 6 million lats or one third of the total amount of coins in circulation. Unfortunately, they have also proven popular with forgers: two-lats imitations account for three quarters of all counterfeits, worth 45 thousand lats, discovered over the past six years. Issuance of the new bimetal coin will contribute to the security of settlements while making life more difficult for criminals.

Do I need to exchange my 2-lats coins for the new ones?
No. The old 2-lats coins will remain in circulation alongside the new. Both the new bimetal coin and the two types of earlier coins, respectively featuring a cow and an ethnographic motif, are legal tender in the Republic of Latvia.

When will the new coins appear in circulation?
The resolution on putting these coins into circulation has already been adopted, so you may receive them at your bank as early as tomorrow. The Bank of Latvia issues currency through commercial banks. Commercial banks choose the banknotes or coins in denominations preferred by their customers - depositors, companies and state institutions (for salaries etc.). As a result, when withdrawing cash at your commercial bank or getting change at a store, post office or elsewhere you may get both the old and new 2-lats coins.

Where were the new 2-lats coins struck?
The new 2-lats coins were struck by the British Royal Mint, which placed the winning bid at an international competition. It is at this mint that 2-lats and other silver coins were produced for pre-war Latvia. In the nineties, the British Royal Mint also struck several silver collector coins for Latvia, including the series of eight collector coins dedicated to the 800th anniversary of the City of Riga and the button-shaped coin commemorating the millennium.