FRANKFURT, Germany -- A new €5 banknote loaded with advanced security features entered circulation on May 2, accomplishing the European Central Bank's mission to deter counterfeiters, but causing major headaches for vending machine operators.
European newspapers are reporting that payment systems for vending machines, gasoline pumps and parking garages, among self-service environments, are reportedly rejecting as many as 90% of the new bills. More accurately, according to industry sources, 90% of the machines that accept euros have not been updated to accept the new banknote design.
The redesigned banknote, intended to deter counterfeiting, marks the first change to the euro's paper currency since its 2002 introduction. It features an enhanced watermark and a hologram with a portrait of the Greek goddess Europa. Additionally, the number 5 in one corner of the bill changes from green to blue when passed in front of a light. There are approximately 1.6 billion €5 notes in circulation at any given time, according to the ECB.
The ECB says it alerted European vending machine manufacturers five years ago that they would have to update the software used in optical readers on their equipment for the new bills. The bank also said it met with industry groups including the European Vending Association and the Banknote Equipment Manufacturers Association and was in close communication with them during testing of the banknote's final design.
An ECB spokesman said the central banks are urging operators to update their vending machines, but are not in a position to force them to do so.
Meanwhile, new versions of the €10, €20, and other higher-denomination notes are set to be rolled out during the coming months, and they will have similar security features.