09262017Headline:

Printing of 500 euro banknotes to end in late 2018

The European Central Bank has decided to permanently stop printing 500 euros banknotes towards the end of 2018, citing the note's popularity among criminals. The note will remain legal tender for those who possess them.

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank made the decision on Wednesday after reviewing the structure of the Europa series - which is the second series of euro banknotes which are being introduced gradually.

"[The council] has decided to permanently stop producing the €500 banknote and to exclude it from the Europa series, taking into account concerns that this banknote could facilitate illicit activities," the European Central Bank said in a press statement.

As a result of the decision, the printing and issuance of the €500 note will be permanently stopped towards the end of 2018, which coincides with the introduction of the €100 and €200 banknotes of the Europa series.

"In view of the international role of the euro and the widespread trust in its banknotes, the €500 will remain legal tender and can therefore continue to be used as a means of payment and store of value," the bank said. "The Eurosystem, which comprises the ECB and the euro area national central banks, will take steps to ensure that the remaining denominations are available in sufficient quantities."

The 500 bill is the largest denomination banknote of the euro though many businesses refuse to accept it. The high value of the note allows criminals to transport large sums of money with relatively few banknotes, but critics worry that the bank's decision could be a first step in abolishing cash altogether.

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