ECONOMY

Few problems in banks during first day of transactions in euros

Yesterday, the first working day with the euro in circulation, banks faced several, but not insurmountable, problems. The day was marked by small businessmen rushing to the banks to exchange drachmas for euros and some ATMs running out of money. For the banks themselves, the biggest problems occurred after they were closed to the public, as several cashiers could not exactly match the sums of drachmas they had received with the euros they had dispensed. In many bank branches, the personnel stayed after 8 p.m. to double- and triple-check each transaction. It was found that, in most cases, the discrepancies arose because the tellers, out of habit, recorded transactions made in euros as having been made in drachmas. Bank managers believe this problem will gradually disappear. They said that, despite the number of people crowding bank branches, actually very few problems arose. This was partly because shops remained closed. Problems are expected to be exacerbated today. The Hellenic Banks’ Association said, in a statement, that banks will only dispense euros and that any transaction involving both euros and drachmas, is charge- and commission-free. In all 12 eurozone countries, the arrival of the new year, which coincided with that of the euro notes and coins, was celebrated in some unusual party venues – the countries’ central banks. Citizens lined up at ATMs to be among the first to get hold of the new euro notes.