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Banknote circulation

Denomination
Amount in CHF
Amount in %
Pieces
Pieces in %
 
 
 
 
 
1'000
36'499'207'000
61.1%
36'499'207
9.7%
500*
113'378'500
0.2%
226'757
0.1%
200
8'328'580'400
13.9%
41'642'902
11.0%
100
10'150'627'700
17.0%
101'506'277
26.9%
50
2'336'244'050
3.9%
46'724'881
12.4%
20
1'597'739'420
2.7%
79'886'971
21.2%
10
709'365'930
1.2%
70'936'593
18.8%
 
 
 
 
 
Total
59'735'143'000
100.0%
377'423'588
100.0%

Table: Swiss banknotes in circulation on average in 2013
* These banknotes belong to the sixth series

The high proportion of large denominations indicates that banknotes are used not only as a means of payment but also – to a considerable degree – as a store of value.
Banknote circulation has risen drastically in terms of value since the SNB started business in 1907. To some extent, this corresponds to inflation. The illustration below shows the development of nominal banknote circulation and of banknote circulation in real terms, deflated using consumer prices (at the price level of 1907). The banknotes of the former banks of issue which circulated parallel to SNB banknotes until 1910 and the Bundeskassenscheine (certificates which were redeemable in gold) issued by the Confederation and in circulation between 1914 and 1929 are included in these figures. After that, from the end of 1907 to the end of 2013, nominal banknote circulation increased by 67'094%. The growth rate for banknote circulation in real terms is decidedly smaller, but still considerable at 5'796%.

Illustration: Banknotes in circulation 1907 - 2013

Illustration: The ratio between banknotes in circulation and GDP

The increase in banknote circulation is, in part, also a reflection of economic growth. The illustration above depicts the path of banknote circulation in relation to the nominal gross domestic product (GDP). This shows that the ratio between banknote circulation and nominal GDP has fallen steadily since the end of the Second World War. In other words, banknote circulation has risen at a slower rate than nominal GDP. In the sixties, the proportion of cash in circulation was double the current amount, totalling 16 percent of gross domestic product. This development reflects the progress in payment technology, which has contributed to cashless payment transactions becoming more widespread and allowed companies and households to keep less cash on hand. By contrast, the first four decades of the century saw banknote circulation rising as a proportion of nominal GDP. Initially, the reason for this development was the increasing replacement of metal coins and drafts by banknotes in the early years of the SNB's existence. Later on, general uncertainty during the First World War, in particular, as well as deflation at the beginning of the twenties and again during the Great Depression in the thirties all contributed to the stockpiling of banknotes.