LISBON, May 2 (Xinhua) -- The Bank of Portugal bought 272 million 1 and 2 cent coins from the Bank of Ireland in 2017, the Publico newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Specifically, the Bank of Portugal purchased 148.8 million 2 cent coins and 123.2 million 1 cent coins. At the same time, Portugal sold 2.1 million 2 euros coins to Ireland. The deal was thus worth 4.2 million euros (5.04 million U.S. dollars) to both sides.
The Bank of Portugal said the exchange was agreed in June 2017. "It was the biggest logistical operation in currency terms since the introduction of the euro and the withdrawal of the escudo," the source added.
Euros and cents were physically introduced into eurozone countries on Jan. 1, 2002. Prior to joining the eurozone, Portugal's currency was the escudo.
Ireland, a eurozone partner of Portugal, began to withdraw 1 and 2 cent coins in 2015. The lowest denomination coin in Ireland became the 5 cent piece and prices were rounded up or down accordingly.
The lower denomination coins remain popular in Portugal, but every year thousands of 1 and 2 cent coins disappear from circulation, either lost or hoarded.
At the same time, huge numbers of 2 euro coins enter Portuguese circulation via tourism. Generally unpopular with Portuguese consumers, large quantities of 2 euro coins thus end up being stockpiled at the Bank of Portugal.
Given that 1 and 2 cent coins cost more than their face value to manufacture, swapping excess 2 euro pieces for Ireland's unwanted cents proved a happy solution for both sides.