January 1, 2002, the twelve EU countries, with their more than 300 million constituents, participated in the largest currency experiment of such a kind in history. The various local currencies, including the German Marks, French Francs, etc., were to be replaced overnight with the Euro currency. The swap made for one of the largest logistical problems Europe has ever faced together.
The swap began at least three years earlier as a book value currency, allowing for exchange stabilization. The new currency had to also be coined and printed, which required standardized printers that could match the exact specifications of the new bills down to the nanometer. Next was the distribution of the bills and coinage. This began three months earlier in the beginning of September, as the more than 2,300 armored vehicles, trucks and security personnel were deployed to spread the currency throughout banks, to be held in their vaults; Many of which had to be redesigned to house the new currency.
As deployment was finished, the transition would start as the money was distributed in “starter kits,” or small amounts purchasable at local banks. The period between the beginning of January, until February 28th was to be a transition period, in which both currencies could be legally used as consumers got used to the Euro. Bank restrictions on labor hours were relaxed to help with the transition.
Besides spreading the new currency, the old currencies also had to be collected. Predictions were made that half this old currency would be collected within the first two weeks. Citizens were called to empty their piggy banks, exchanging the currency for the Euro.
The switch to the Euro is a remarkable feat in logistics, done with relatively few problems.