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Euro cash

Big money

A bridge too far

The counterfeiters

UK euro notes

Tons of money

The Queen's head

Trouble at the mint

A cent is a cent

The launch of EMU

Back to Euro facts

BBC News Online

. From January 2002, millions of people across Europe will queue at their banks and post offices to get hold of the new money - because cash points and teller machines have to be converted to handle the euro.

Most of the coins will be brought into circulation through retailers, when they give change to shoppers.

Introducing the new money is a logistical nightmare. Germany's Deutsche Bank, for example, estimates that their cashiers will spend 2,000 months-worth of work to swap the cash holdings of their private customers - if each customer visits only once.

Another problem is how to get all that money to the banks and shops in the first place. One solution would be to call in the army. Soldiers all across Europe could be in action on 1 January 2002 - collecting the old notes and coins and guarding and distributing the enormous quantities of new money that are due to be released.

Coins are the biggest problem. The Dutch government, for example, estimates that 250 one-tonne trucks will have to make 8000 journeys to distribute its 1.5 billion allocation of the euro coin mountain: Germany will have 20 billion coins to share out. The 76 billion euro coins are estimated to weigh in at up to 300,000 tonnes, and many banks say that they have not enough space to store them.