Sysmod's PraxIS

Managing reality in Information Systems - Strategies for Success

Systems Modelling Ltd. Issue Feb 2001



Euro features

Notes and Coins - the whites of the eyes of the euro
The practical organisation of the changeover
EuroCalculus cash requirements calculator
Retailers fear the winter change
Bank of England gets answers to technical questions
Will prices go up as happened at UK decimalisation?
EUBusiness online workshop "Euro notes and coins"
Irish Chartered Accountants Euro Guide
Irish Computer Society Yearbook 2001 on the Euro


Operations Research and Decision Support in Ebiz
XBRL: eXtensible Business Reporting Language
Domain Games

Tech stuff 

On the lighter side

32 Web links in this newsletter

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Welcome to PraxIS!

This month, we look in depth at the introduction of euro notes and coins in a little over 300 days.

This year is the last chance for companies to make the euro changeover, so we remind you of our consultancy services in euro training [5], software compliance certification [6], and the book+CD on the euro conversion [1], to help you succeed! 

We appreciate any feedback or suggestions for improvement. If you have received this newsletter from anybody else, we urge you to sign up for your personal copy at  - it's free!

To help readability, hyperlinks in the text are given in full URL format at the end. Let me know if this does not work for you. 

Patrick O'Beirne, Editor

Euro Features

There is now less than a year to go before the final changeover - our euro training workshop [5] can be customised for your business - ask for details.

Notes and Coins - the whites of the eyes of the euro

The twelve countries of the eurozone have just under a year to prepare for the introduction of 14.5 billion euro banknotes and 50 billion coins weighing 250,000 metric tons. These are destined for the world's banks, the pockets of 300 million citizens, and cash-operated machines. For example, there are 4 million automatic food and drinks dispensers in Europe. The staggering scale of this changeover is beginning to emerge, and in this article we'll give a few pointers to industry approaches and stories. 

Declaration by cash users on practical organisation

From the Eurocommerce web site: Common declaration by cash users on the practical organisation of the changeover to the euro in January 2002. [8] "Consumers and representatives of various professional sectors (trade, Crafts, SMEs, transport and tourism) believe that the front-loading of all economic operators, including consumers, with euro coins and notes is an essential condition to ensure a successful final stage of the euro-changeover.
If consumers have no coins and notes in euro at their disposal before 31 December, retailers will have to take on almost the entire distribution of coins and of the 5 and 10 euro notes (in principle, ATMs will only distribute the 20 and 50 euro notes). According to surveys carried out by different trade sectors, this would require stocks of coins and notes 10 times higher than the usual value of the cash stocks. Such a situation is impossible both for technical (size of tills and safes) and safety reasons. The principle of handing back change only in euro can only work if a significant part of consumers pay with euro notes and coins" 
A related problem is the longer time to handle the transaction, which lengthens waiting queues at checkouts and can cause a loss of turnover. The Dutch Railways has carried out research and the findings are: exploding queues, travelling without tickets, and many counter measures that are ineffective or even counterproductive. 

Eurocalculus cash requirements calculator

A study in Austria by the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration [9] has produced the "Eurocalculus" MS Excel-based calculator. A German language version can be downloaded from  STUZZA [10].  The lead author is Dr. Rupert Nagler, an adviser on information systems and communication at the Information Design Institute. They used a simulation model developed for the Austrian National Bank that simulates cash circulation under various scenarios such as a customer paying with a large banknote; or the highest possible units; or to ensure they get the highest denomination change. The business needs to know its typical transaction values, the number of sales per hour, and their opening hours on each of the days of the dual circulation period. The model predicts the number of notes and rolls of coins they will need, with some assumptions about a penetration graph of euro takeup.

The Euro Changeover Board of Ireland [11] is going to make freely available this month a CD with a cash requirements calculator. "Eurofloat" works out the amount of cash a business will need on hand at the beginning of next year on the basis of a sample of 40-50 transactions using current price points and typical amounts tendered using a typical sample period.

The European Commission Tables on the National Cash Changeover plans can be download from the FEE web site archives in PDF format [12].

Retailers fear the winter change

A Bloomberg report of January 24 "As Euro Cash Arrives, Retailers Hope They Can Spare the Change" [13] by Adrian Cox comments:

"Retailers are warning of chaos at the tills, long customer lines and spiraling costs to pay for and store up to 60 times the amount of change usually needed at the beginning of the day. Vending machine makers say they will lose up to 8 percent of sales in replacing and adjusting their machines. Cash transporters say they will struggle to exchange cash fast enough." "Inno expects a 17 percent loss in sales in the first days of the euro as customers each take an extra 30 seconds at the till", said Marc Loward, in charge of euro preparations for Inno's 15 department stores, owned by GIB Group SA, Belgium's second-largest retailer. The introduction coincides with the first days of winter sales, and in some countries it is the peak period for the highest amount of cash in circulation.

The Bank of England technical Q&A

The BOE recently asked the Commission some technical questions about the 2001-2002 crossover, and received a reply from Brussels dated 29 January 2001 "ECFIN/74/01- EN TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT THE END OF THE EURO CHANGEOVER" [14]. It deals with:
1. Re-denomination of securities
2. Company accounts denomination
3. Historic information in legacy currency
4. Conversion of bank accounts
5. Payments processing lag time for legacy currencies
6. 31 December 2001 - bank restrictions

Banks in Ireland will strongly encourage their customers to lodge legacy currency denominated cheques before 9 February 2002, the last day of the dual circulation period in Ireland, and it is expected that the vast majority of such cheques will have been lodged by that date. According to Irish banking practice, however, cheques remain valid for six months after they have been drawn. Banks will therefore continue to accept such cheques for payments until 30 June 2002.

Will prices go up like at UK decimalisation?

We are sometimes asked, by those with thirty-year-long memories, if any lessons can be learnt from the experience in the UK and Ireland of changing to decimal currency in 1971. 
The main lesson is that close and long co-operation is essential between banks, shops, and consumers. It coincided with a period of inflation which, together with the inevitable rounding up of small item prices, has left an indelible impression in the public mind of loss of value with any change in legal tender currency. Malcom Levitt, EU adviser to Barclay's PLC, describes several critical success factors in his presentation available on our web site [15]

However, the price increases are already happening. Newspapers and magazines in Ireland have increased cover prices, positioning themselves to be able to announce rounded-down prices to whole euro amounts, to prove how euro-friendly they are. This is quite acceptable in terms of national codes of practice, such as that published by the Director of Consumer affairs in Ireland. [16]  However, it may raise questions about their compliance with the ODCA's Action Plan [17] "Action plan 2000 - 2001 to protect consumers as far as possible against unwarranted price rises during the changeover to the euro."

EUBusiness online workshop "Euro notes and coins"

The next EUbusiness online discussion forum [18] will be on Wednesday 21 February, 16.30-17.30 (CET), 15.30-16.30 (UK) This workshop will highlight euro changeover issues. The intention is to outline the issues involved, timetables and country variations; complexity and implications for retailers; combating consumer resistance and EU initiatives; starter kits of coins; and provide information on help available and the opportunities offered by the single currency. If you are interested in taking part, or would like to be one of the panel of experts, please email Wendy Jones at wendy(at)eubusiness(dot)com  

Irish Chartered Accountants Euro Guide

The Institute of Chartered Accounts in Ireland has produced a useful guide dealing with the main accounting and software related issues: The euro - changeover issue for business [19]

Irish Computer Society Yearbook on the Euro

My most recent article on the euro aimed at an IT audience can be read on the Irish Computer Society web site [20] "The final changeover to the euro". After a successful transition into Y2K, the ICS is concerned about the level of awareness and the adequacy of preparations within the business community to ensure a successful conversion to euro, the next massive change project the profession has to face in Europe. The article features:  the business risks from lack of preparation; risks to euro conversion projects and how to manage them; a checklist of some technical issues; some URLs for further reference.

Are you sure your software applications can support all the requirements for the business changeover to the euro? Get an independent assessment on their "compliance" or "euro-readiness" with our euro software certification service. [6] 

Euro Quiz 

Q1: How did the euro get its name?

Q2: Who designed the euro notes?

Q3: Who designed the euro coins?

Answers below. 

Last month, we asked "What is the oldest currency in continuous circulation up to the present day in Europe?" We received a variety of answers, the most unusual being the Guernsey currency!  However, according to Prof Roy Davies at Exeter [21], it is UK Sterling, so congratulations to Rónán Gallagher of Bertelsmann. Professor Davies' article "Britain and European Monetary Union" states  "The Pound Sterling, in contrast to other European currencies, has 1,000 years of history, shaping British attitudes to monetary union."

Did you know?… [22] A Short Pictorial History of Community Currency Systems by Stephen DeMeulenaere. Absolutely nothing to do with the euro, but a fascinating sidetrack for those interested in the history of money.

If your organisation has a web site on the euro, you can provide your web site visitors with answers to frequently asked questions on EMU and the euro currency, by a link to our comprehensive FAQ. This list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers [3] is rated by EMU page [4] as the #2 "Related Web Site" after the European Commission itself. If you do quote from our website, it's good practice to provide the reader with a link back to the source.

Euro Quiz Answers

Q1: At the European Council meeting held in Madrid in December 1995, the European Heads of State or Government decided together to give the name 'euro' to the European single currency. 

Q2: Who designed the euro notes?
Robert Kalina of the Austrian Central Bank won a competition among professional note designers that was launched by the European Monetary Institute (EMI) in February 1996. The designs were slightly modified in 1997 and the final versions include important security features including fluorescent fibres, a security thread and machine readable elements for reliable authentication. 

Q3: Who designed the euro coins?
In March 1997, a European jury of independent experts chose the nine best series out of a total of 36 in a design competition limited to three themes : architectural, abstract and European personalities. The competition was won by Luc Luycx, a 39-year-old computer scientist at the Belgian Royal Mint, who received a prize of ECU 24,000. 

These and many other common questions on the euro are answered by QUEST [32], the EU database on the euro.

Many of the readers of this newsletter are influencers who provide euro advice and services to business. Why not help them and give yourself some heavyweight support by giving your clients a copy of my book+CD "Managing the euro in information systems: strategies for success" [1]


Operations Research and Decision Support in Ebiz

A forthcoming special issue of Interfaces on operations research/management science [23] applied to e-business is now freely available for download.  Its seven papers collectively demonstrate that decision technology is becoming a powerful adjunct to information technology as the digital economy matures.

XBRL: eXtensible Business Reporting Language

XBRL allows software vendors, programmers and end users who adopt it as a specification to enhance the creation, exchange, and comparison of business reporting information.  Business reporting includes, but is not limited to, financial statements, financial information, non-financial information and regulatory filings such as annual and quarterly financial statements. have announced a request for requirements for XBRL Specification, version 2.0. This is an open request for all users and developers of XBRL to submit ideas for the enhancement.  The period for comments begins now and ends on February 10, 2001. Anyone who would like to comment on the XBRL specification is encouraged to read the announcement posted on [24]. Comments should be posted to the xbrl-public discussion group [25].

Another source of information is XBRLWire from Business & Finance magazine online, published each month [26]

Domain Games

According to a report in "European dot coms guilty of neglect" [27], Landwell, PWC's legal division, surveyed 100 pure-play dot-coms in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK and found that almost a third had not bothered to register their trademarks in their own countries. The report shows that 40 per cent of companies had not bothered to register their domain names in any other territory despite the fact that well over half of them were getting responses from 10 countries or more.

We know that domain name resale is big business. People bid at auctions for desirable and instantly-recognisable names such as However, it is less well known that there is a similar market in numbers. The numbers 168 and 289 might mean little to most Westerners, but some cellphone customers in China will pay a fortune for those numbers that promise prosperity. The New York Times reported that one valuable number fetched $40,000 at a Chinese auction. [28] 

Project Management Proverbs

Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one. 

What you don't know hurts you. 

Tech stuff [29]
An online technical encyclopaedia with "learning paths" which let you read entries in sequence so that you can swot up on a particular technology.

The lighter side

MISinformation [30]: "The Only Newsletter of Computer Humor", edited by Chris Miksanek. Read the bottom of the page ... carefully. His more recent writing can be found in the online ghost of Datamation in his Over the Edge Humor Column [31]: "The 21st Century CIO: Where Do You Go From Here?" The start of a new year is a good time for a personal inventory. But you've already reached the top rung of your career ladder. What's left to conquer?

The "Did you mean to say that" department:
Press release announcing the launch of "Just think of Plastic as an information laxative, your best bet for getting at the Internet's richest waste."


[1] Managing the Euro in Information Systems: Strategies for Success

[2] Euro Web Link Directory

[3] Euro FAQ

[4]  Yahoo: European Monetary Union and the euro

[5] Euro IT Workshop

[6] Euro compliance software certification service

[7] Software development pointers

[8] Common declaration by cash users on the practical organisation of the changeover to the euro in January 2002 

[9]  Projektkurzbericht Euro - Day 1. Januar 2002 by Peter Schnedlitz/Rupert Nagler/Christoph Teller 

[10] Tool zur Wechselgeldberechnung für die duale Währungsphase 

[11] Euro Changeover Board of Ireland

[12] National Plans for Cash changeover

Bloomberg article on retailer's fears.

[14] BOE technical Q&A

[15] Lesssons from the UK experience of decimalisation by Malcolm Levitt

[16] National Code on euro changeover from the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs in Ireland

[17] ODCA action plan. 

[18] EUBusiness workshop

[19] ICAI The euro - changeover issue for business.  The direct link to the PDF file is

[20] Irish Computer Society Yearbook article on the Euro

[21] The History of EMU

[22] A Short Pictorial History of Community Currency Systems

[23] Interfaces on operations research/management science applied to e-business

[24] XBRL: eXtensible Business Reporting Language

[25] XBRL discussion group

[26] XBRLwire email magazine

[27] European dot coms guilty of neglect

[28] Chinese cellphone lucky numbers

[29] online technical encyclopedia 

[30] MISinformation humour


[32] QUEST database

Patrick O'Beirne

Copyright 2001 Systems Modelling Limited, . Reproduction allowed provided the report is copied in its entirety and with this copyright notice.



"Praxis" means model or example, from the Greek verb "to do". The name is chosen to reflect our focus on practical solutions to IS problems, avoiding hype. If you like acronyms, think of it as "Patrick's reports and analysis across Information Systems".

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