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Financial Literacy

Five Facts about Money with Which You Can Amaze Your Child

What Swiss coins have in common with 200 blue whales, and why you shouldn't throw away burned notes – you can use these facts to arouse your child's curiosity about money.

Money has existed for over a thousand years. In Switzerland, however, it's just 170 years since the first franc coin was introduced. Quite a lot has happened in the meantime: Coins are no longer made of silver, the 500 franc note is no longer on the market, and the ninth generation of banknotes is currently being issued – and these are even waterproof.

Did you know? Here are five more facts about money with which you are sure to impress your child.

1. The Swiss 1,000 Franc Note Is the Highest Value Note in the World

With no other note can you afford to buy as much as with the Swiss 1,000 franc note. At present, there are 45 million of the violet notes in people's wallets and safes. Taken together, the 1,000 franc notes account for more than half of all cash in Switzerland. However, the Swiss 1,000 franc note is far from being the highest value note ever: Up to three years ago, it was the 10,000 Singapore dollar note. It was worth the equivalent of around 7,300 francs. But it's no longer in circulation today.

2. All the Coins in Switzerland Weigh As Much As 200 Blue Whales

In 2016, 5.4 billion coins were in circulation in Switzerland. Hard to imagine? Taken together, all 5.4 billion coins weigh roughly the same as 200 blue whales or 4,000 elephants, namely 28,000 tons. If you piled all the coins on top of each other to make a huge tower, it would be 9,000 meters tall, twice as high as the Matterhorn and hence higher than the highest mountain in the world. Added together, all the coins in circulation in 2016 were worth around three billion Swiss francs. That is enough buy a bar of chocolate for every child in the world. And incidentally, some of the coins are already quite old: The oldest ten-centime coins have now chalked up no less than 138 years in circulation – and you can still pay with them.


Billion coins in circulation


Billion francs: the combined value of all coins


Years old: the age of the oldest ten-centime coin

3. The Most Secure Banknotes Come from Switzerland

Just 2,300 counterfeit Swiss banknotes were discovered in 2016. This low number is due to the many security features that make the banknotes extremely difficult to counterfeit. Should what is known as a "dud" end up in your wallet, you won't be given a replacement. And just passing it on is not a solution either because that is an offense. That's why it's important to have a close look when receiving banknotes, because you are not obliged to accept them. If you suspect that you have been given a counterfeit note, this should be presented at the nearest police station to be checked.

4. A Banknote Lasts for an Average of Three Years

The lifespan of a note depends to a large extent on its value because smaller notes are used more frequently and are therefore damaged more quickly. The 10, 20 and 50 franc banknotes are generally only used for two to three years. A 100 or 200 franc banknote has a life of approximately four years, while the 1,000 franc note often lasts for ten years. In 2016, a total of 426 million banknotes worth 72 billion Swiss francs was in circulation. This could buy you 160 airplanes.

5. Burned Banknotes Can Be Exchanged

At the Swiss National Bank, there are special experts who deal with damaged banknotes – irrespective of whether the note is burned, decaying or badly damaged in some other way. But in general the following applies when exchanging a note: You should have at least half of the note in a single piece and it must be possible to identify the serial number. Then it takes an average of six days for the amount of the exchanged note to be transferred to your account. But it can also take longer if more time-consuming analysis is needed.

You can find more information about damaged banknotes here.