Apart from the criminals, few Europeans will miss the 500 euros ticket, condemned to disappear progressively as of this Sunday. But in a Germany very attached to cash, this farewell is more painful.
"I prefer the cash for the important amounts, this does not mean I do something dubious," says Rolf, 61, interrogated in Frankfurt, who paid a used car with cash.
For Rolf, it is "hard to accept" the decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) to abandon the issuance of 500 euros by 17 of the 19 national central banks. Only banks in Germany and Austria will continue to print them until April 26 to "ensure a better transition," according to the ECB.
Tickets sent to central banks may be exchanged for smaller units and those that are not exchanged will not lose their value.
"You can continue to use them to pay or save," said Eva Taylor, ECB spokesman. The volume involved is modest, since the 500 euro notes only represent 2.3% of the currency in circulation.
'Bin Laden' Court
The Frankfurt institution decided to stop issuing bills of 500 euros in 2016 justifying the decision for fear of "facilitating illegal activities." The bill, nicknamed "Bin Laden", allows discreetly carrying enormous amounts and facilitate the circulation of money from illegal activities, corruption or the financing of terrorism.
One million euros in 500 bills represents only 2.2 kg of paper and can be hidden in a bag for a computer. The same amount in 100 dollar bills, the highest cut in the US currency, weighs almost six times more and its transport is less discreet.
But the decision of the ECB was poorly received in some countries, including Germany, who fear that it is the beginning of the end of cash and the beginning of widespread monitoring of financial transactions.
Jens Weidmann, governor of the Bundesbank, had estimated that the disappearance of the 500 euro bill would disturb criminal activities, but would "undermine confidence" in the single currency.
Some critics also regret that without such bills it would be very complicated for commercial banks to physically deposit important sums of money to avoid the expensive deposits in the ECB, which imposes a negative rate of 0.4%.
When the euro was born, it was under pressure from Germany, which had before it a 1,000-marcos ticket worth more than 500 euros, which was created this court.
However, even in this country where paying at the restaurant with a card is almost impossible, the cuts of 500 euros are no longer used than in the rest of Europe. For many customers, this ticket slightly larger than the others poses a problem.
"Nobody wanted to accept them in business," says Suzanne Spenner, a 50-year-old mother's assistant.
According to a study by the Bundesbank in 2017, more than 60% of the Germans had at least once in their hands a 500 euro bill.
In the euro zone, only 20% of those questioned by the ECB in 2015 and 2016 used a 200 or 500 euros ticket the previous year.
In shops, such as Lucia Bassing in Frankfurt, card payment has more place, but it still happens that there are customers who pay a bill of 3,000 euros with tickets.
"I'm not going to miss those of 500, because I do not like having them on top. But I am glad to accept them from the customers, "she says smiling.