ECONOMY

Banks say changeover is going well

Greek banks said yesterday that the euro cash changeover was proceeding smoothly, and most expected their automatic teller machines (ATMs) to be fully switched over to the new currency by midnight last night. «Everything went as planned. Right after midnight our first 150 ATMs went euro ready, and about 30 minutes later so did 80 percent of our ATM network,» said Christos Kefalas, who oversaw the euro project for Alpha Bank, Greece’s second largest bank. At one second after midnight about one third of National Bank’s ATM network was ready to dispense euro notes. «The prime minister (Costas Simitis) was the first Greek to use an ATM to get euros,» said Yiannis Avgoustis, head of the euro project at National Bank. «The switch went well, there were no problems.» More than 300 million Europeans in 12 eurozone countries began swapping their national currencies for euros yesterday in one of the biggest-ever logistical exercises, crowning an ambitious monetary union. Yesterday, the European Commission said the euro changeover was going smoothly, with Europeans showing curiosity and enthusiasm about their new currency. Piraeus Bank, which shut down its ATMs at 9 p.m. on Monday, said that its entire network of 300 ATMs had switched over to euros right after midnight. Bank officials said there were no reloading problems. ATMs had not run out of euros as Greeks started to get acquainted with their new currency, and ATM networks had not crashed. «Countrywide so far there were about 165,000 transactions at our ATMs and about 70 percent of these must be in euros,» National Bank’s Avgoustis said, adding that there were more ATM withdrawals than on New Year’s Day last year. Avoiding confusion