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Euro fails to make inroads in Switzerland

Many tourists use euros in Switzerland - but receive change in francs

(Keystone)

The introduction of the euro has had little impact on financial transactions in Switzerland, which continue to be conducted primarily in Swiss francs.

A new study reveals that the franc remains the most popular currency in Switzerland, and that the euro has not become a major competitor.

Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, but the euro has been accepted as payment for goods and services in many shops and restaurants since the notes and coins were introduced in 2002.

However, only 24 per cent of Swiss retailers give their customers change in euros.

The survey by the Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research (KOF) - which used data collected from more than 2,000 Swiss firms - also indicates that the use of foreign currency has increased in Switzerland since the introduction of the euro.

Paying bills

In 2002, Swiss firms paid on average 58.5 per cent of their bills in a foreign currency, a rise of just over eleven per cent since 1998.

But the KOF survey makes it clear that salaries paid in euros are still the exception to the rule.

Of the 1,220 Swiss companies which make regular payments in euros, only 0.6 per cent were found in the survey to pay salaries in the single European currency to Swiss employees or foreign workers living in Switzerland.

Just over one per cent of firms pay salaries in euros to employees who cross over the border to work in Switzerland.

Currency risk

The report also reveals that less than half of Swiss businesses protect themselves against currency risks related to the euro.

Those that safeguard themselves against currency fluctuations do so by aligning their euro income and expenditure on the currency markets.

Research indicates that Swiss companies are increasingly favouring the euro over the dollar, which recently plummeted to its lowest level in seven years against the franc.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

On January 1 2002, 12 of the 15 European Union members completed their conversion to the euro. Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom opted out.

The Swiss franc remains the most popular currency in Switzerland, but the euro is gaining ground over the US dollar.

Many tourists use the euro to pay for goods and services in Switzerland, but change is usually given in Swiss francs.

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