THE Central Bank has swapped more than €2.9m worth of old punts over the last four years, including more than €625,000 in coins.
All the largest exchanges last year were worth less than €10,000, according to records, with the highest transaction dealing with £7,724, or €9,808, in ‘new money’.
Figures for 2021 show how just over €400,000 — or £317,124 in punts — was exchanged in notes last year, two decades after the euro first came into circulation. Remarkably, a further €163,000 — or £128,458 in old pound coins and other loose change — were also exchanged by the Central Bank in 2021.
The figures were up more than a third compared to 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when around €415,000 in old pound banknotes and coins were exchanged. However, the level of exchange was far higher in prior years like 2018 when €1.13m worth of punts were swapped out for euros.
That figure dropped to €839,423 in 2019 before its precipitous decline in 2020 when significant restrictions on movement were in place for large parts of the year to curb the spread of coronavirus.
A log of the 20 largest transactions from last year shows that most were relatively small with all ranging between €4,100 and €9,800 in value.
The Central Bank said that last year it had allowed the exchange of damaged pound notes on 738 separate occasions with limits to how poor the condition of the currency can be.
There was just a single instance recorded in 2021 where the Central Bank declined an exchange due to the “severity of damage” to the notes involved. Punts are exchanged at the fixed rate of £1 for €1.269738 based on the value at the time the euro came into circulation in January 2002.
Appointments must be made at the Central Bank with the exchange of damaged currency — including euro notes — allowed even where notes may have been partially burnt, cut, or are suffering from decomposition.
For values above €200, applicants need to provide a high-quality photocopy of an official identity document while exchanges worth more than €1,000 require evidence of ownership and the source of the funds.
A health and safety assessment must be included where there is evidence of contamination of the money with blood, mould, sewage, drugs, or other unknown substances. The Central Bank said it can refuse applications where it believes genuine banknotes or coins have been deliberately damaged.
Exchanges are also refused where it’s believed a criminal offence was committed, or in circumstances where the banknote is suspected of being counterfeit or altered.
The Central Bank said that when applications are refused, they would provide reasons why: “This may happen if you submit less than half of a …banknote for exchange and do not provide evidence that the missing parts have been destroyed.”