The eurozone is moving to stop printing 500-euro banknotes, the violet-coloured bills that authorities fear are favoured by criminals, with most of the 19 nations in the currency bloc to halt issuing them next month.
“As of 27 January 2019, 17 of the 19 national central banks in the euro area will no longer issue 500-euro banknotes,” the European Central Bank said on its website.
However, Austria and Germany will both continue printing the banknotes until April 26 “in order to ensure a smooth transition and for logistical reasons”, the ECB said.
The 500-euro notes in circulation remain legal tender and can be used to make payments.
The ECB announced in May 2016 that it would halt issuing new 500-euro notes, saying at the time that it expected to do so around the end of 2018, due to “concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities”.
The largest denomination banknote in the single currency area is one of the world’s most valuable bills, alongside the 1,000 Swiss franc ($1,017, 888 euros) note.