It’s not a secret, but little-known until recently. Thanks to the crisis in Europe and its ripple effect on the country, Indian business executives and travellers are learning the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ of € notes.

Though the euro is a common currency, accepted equally across all nations, and printed in individual member-countries with identical design, the number of a note begins with an English alphabet denoting the country of origin . The crisis has created a scaremongering among some groups that the Greek euro notes may become worthless if the country quits the single currency.

German notes begin with an X, while Greek notes start with a Y. Spain is V, France U, Ireland T, Portugal M and Italy S. Belgium is Z, Cyprus G, Luxembourg 1, Malta F, Netherlands P, Austria N, Slovenia H, Slovakia E and Finland L.

A top executive of a European company present here said, the information has been incorporated in the in-house travel advisory as a part of the Ps and Qs.

“This is not to create an alarm but keep our officials aware of certain European travel realities,” the official said.

A Kolkata-based businessman said during his recent visit across Europe he became aware of differentiations in euro notes from taxi drivers, small shop owners and un-starred eating joints. “My ignorance did land me in an awkward situation and a little inconvenience. But I was a little upset that neither my travel agent nor my bank did enlighten me on the subject,” he added wishing to remain anonymous.

A couple of months ago an online travel company advised holidaymakers to Europe to get rid of their Greek euros in the face of a possibility of crisis-hit country exiting the single currency union.

The blog post on the travel company's Web site (which has since been removed) advised Britons to check the origin of their euro notes, saying that Greece could use them as an interim currency while new notes are being printed.

A number of other blogs took up the subject triggering scores of mass emails. One of them even claimed that it “confirmed” from an ECB source that the German notes were dominating the supplies of euro notes, while Greek versions were disappearing fast.

(This article was published on July 21, 2012)
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