MIL-OSI Banking: Number of counterfeit notes and coins falls again

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Source: Czech National Bank

A total of 1,002 counterfeit and altered Czech banknotes and coins were seized in the Czech Republic in 2020. While the number of counterfeits seized decreased again slightly, their value increased by CZK 100,000 to almost CZK 1.3 million compared with the previous year. The number of counterfeit banknotes and coins has remained constantly low in recent years, despite the fact that the amount of circulating currency increases each year. The amount of currency in circulation reached a record high of over CZK 700 billion at the end of 2020.

The two-thousand-koruna note was the most frequently counterfeited Czech banknote in 2020. As in previous years, the majority of the counterfeit Czech banknotes seized in 2020 were printed on ink-jet printers – 621 counterfeits, i.e. more than 62% of all seized koruna banknotes. A total of 366 counterfeits made using colour toner copiers were discovered, 223 more than in 2019. On a five-point security scale, the seized banknotes were most frequently given a grade of 4, i.e. poor quality. Such counterfeits usually contain either no security features or only simple imitations of them.

“The steady downward trend in the number of counterfeits seized in the Czech Republic observed in recent years continued into 2020. This confirms, among other things, that the security features of Czech banknotes and coins are at the global cutting edge. Even so, you shouldn’t neglect to check them when you receive them,” said Board Member Oldřich Dědek, who oversees the Cash Department.

Counterfeit and altered banknotes and coins seized in the Czech Republic:

  Seized in 2020 Seized in 2019
  in circulation by the police total in circulation by the police total
Counterfeit banknotes CZK 616 372 988 689 296 985
Counterfeit banknotes EUR 289 36 325 443 164 607
Counterfeit banknotes USD 26 0 26 96 0 96
Counterfeit banknotes other 14 0 14 66 0 66
Counterfeit coins CZK 0 0 0 6 0 6
Counterfeit coins other 20 0 20 42 0 42
Altered banknotes and coins CZK 14 0 14 23 0 23
Altered banknotes and coins other 2 0 2 3 0 3
Overall 981 408 1,389 1,368 460 1,828

There is only around one counterfeit Czech banknote per 10,000 inhabitants in the Czech Republic. Last year, most were seized in Náchod (301), followed by Prague (210), Ústí nad Labem (83) and Ostrava (81).

Including foreign currencies, the number of counterfeits seized last year was 1,389, i.e. 439 less than in 2019. This is the sixth annual decline in a row. A total of 387 counterfeit and altered foreign banknotes and coins were seized in the Czech Republic in 2020, a decrease of 427 compared to the previous year. Their value converted according to the exchange rate list as of 31 December 2020 was almost CZK 690,000.

The number of counterfeits decreased despite an exceptional increase in the value of currency in circulation in 2020 due to the measures adopted by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19. There are two main reasons for the annual increase of CZK 67.5 billion in currency in circulation to a record high of over CZK 700 billion. At the beginning of the spring lockdown some people created a rainy-day cash fund, although they were unable to use all this cash due to the closure of most shops and services. As in all difficult times, some businesses also held more cash than in normal times.

The CNB offers instructions on how to check the security features of banknotes in the Czech Money mobile app, in interactive educational games, on its website and in information leaflets, for example.

Markéta Fišerová
Director of the Communications Division and CNB Spokesperson


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Interesting facts on the amount of currency in circulation:

  • Since the Czech koruna became legal tender on 8 February 1993, the amount of currency in circulation has risen by CZK 673.1 billion from CZK 28.1 billion.
  • If we were to lay all the banknotes in circulation lengthways one after the other, an 80,200 km belt would be created. This is the distance twice around the equator.
  • The coins currently in circulation weigh over 11,100 tonnes in total. This would fill 555 twenty-tonne wagons.
    The amount of currency in circulation reached: 
    • CZK 100 billion in May 1995
    • CZK 200 billion in June 2000 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 61 months)
    • CZK 300 billion in May 2006 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 71 months)
    • CZK 400 billion in September 2011 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 64 months)
    • CZK 500 billion in November 2015 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 50 months)
    • CZK 600 billion in July 2018 (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 32 months)
    • CZK 700 billion in November 2020 (press release available in Czech only) (an increase of CZK 100 billion in 28 months)

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