The European Central Bank (ECB) announced on May 4 that it will stop printing and issuing €500 banknotes. The phase out will begin around the end of 2018, according to the ECB, when the €100 and €200 banknotes of the Europa series are planned to be introduced.
Some call the note a "Bin Laden," as it is reportedly favored among money launderers, drug dealers and terrorists. They are more readily available than other high currency banknotes, easily cashed, and are handier for criminals to store and transfer large sums of money.
"There is a pervasive and increasing conviction in the world of public opinion that high denomination banknotes are used for criminal purposes," ECB president Mario Draghi said earlier in the year.
Europol, which is the European Union’s top law enforcement agency, said that cash is still the "instrument of choice" for money laundering and that the "€500 note alone accounts for over 30% of the value of all banknotes in circulation, despite it not being a common means of payment."
The ECB reported in March that there were approximately 594,417,006 €500 banknotes in circulation, which is about €297.2 billion. They have been in circulation since 2002. Today, one is worth about US $560.
Even after the phase out, the ECB said that €500 banknotes will remain legal tender. They will keep their value in transactions and continue to be exchangeable at Eurozone central banks for an unlimited period of time.