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PIAS TOWER 11F, 3-19-3
Before 1798, about 75 entities were making coins in Switzerland, including the 25 cantons and half-cantons, 16 cities, and abbeys, resulting in about 860 different coins in circulation, with different values, denominations and monetary systems. The local Swiss currencies included the Basel thaler, Berne thaler, Fribourg gulden, Geneva thaler, Geneva genevoise, Luzern gulden, Neuchatel gulden, St. Gallen thaler, Schwyz gulden, Solothurn thaler, Valais thaler, and Zurich thaler.
This franc was issued until the end of the Helvetic Republic in 1803, but served as the model for the currencies of several cantons in the Mediation period (1803–1814). These 19 cantonal currencies were the Appenzell frank, Argovia frank, Basel frank, Berne frank, Fribourg frank, Geneva franc, Glarus frank, Graubunden frank, Luzern frank, St. Gallen frank, Schaffhausen frank, Schwyz frank, Solothurn frank, Thurgau frank, Ticino franco, Unterwalden frank, Uri frank, Vaud franc, and Zurich frank.
Although 22 cantons and half-cantons issued coins between 1803 and 1850, less than 15% of the money in circulation in Switzerland in 1850 was locally produced, with the rest being foreign, mainly brought back by mercenaries. In addition, some private banks also started issuing the first banknotes, so that in total, at least 8000 different coins and notes were in circulation at that time, making the monetary system extremely complicated. In practice, only the larger German or French trade coins were recognized for large payments within and outside Switzerland. Local small change or banknotes were typically useful only in the issuing canton and were not accepted elsewhere.
The Swiss franc has historically been considered a safe-haven currency, with a legal requirement that a minimum of 40% be backed by gold reserves. However, this link to gold, which dated from the 1920s, was terminated on 1 May 2000 following a referendum. By March 2005, following a gold-selling program, the Swiss National Bank held 1,290 tonnes of gold in reserves, which equated to 20% of its assets.
The franc fell 8.8% against the euro, 9.5% against the dollar, and at least 8.2% against all 16 of the most active currencies on the day of the announcement. It was the largest plunge of the franc ever against the euro. The SNB had previously set an exchange rate target in 1978 against the Deutsche mark and maintained it, although at the cost of high inflation. Until mid-January 2015, the franc continued to trade below the target level set by the SNB, though the ceiling was broken at least once on 5 April 2012, albeit briefly.
The large and unexpected jump caused major losses for some currency traders. Alpari, a Russian-owned spread betting firm established in the UK, temporarily declared insolvency before announcing its desire to be acquired (and later denied rumours of an acquisition) by FXCM. FXCM was bailed out by its parent company. Saxo Bank of Denmark reported losses on 19 January 2015. New Zealand foreign exchange broker Global Brokers NZ announced it "could no longer meet New Zealand regulators' minimum capital requirements" and terminated its business.
Both world wars only had a small effect on the Swiss coinage, with brass and zinc coins temporarily being issued. In 1931, the size of the 5-franc coin was reduced from 25 grams to 15, with the silver content reduced to .835 fineness. The next year, nickel replaced cupronickel in the 5 and 10 centimes.
The 1-centime coin was still produced until 2006, albeit in ever decreasing quantities, but its importance declined. Those who could justify the use of 1-centime coins for monetary purposes could obtain them at face value; any other user (such as collectors) had to pay an additional four centimes per coin to cover the production costs, which had exceeded the actual face value of the coin for many years. The coin fell into disuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but was only officially fully withdrawn from circulation and declared to be no longer legal tender on 1 January 2007. The long-forgotten 2-centime coin, not minted since 1974, was demonetized on 1 January 1978.
All Swiss coins are language-neutral with respect to Switzerland's four national languages, featuring only numerals, the abbreviation "Fr." for franc, and the Latin phrases Helvetia or Conf?deratio Helvetica (depending on the denomination) or the inscription Libertas (Roman goddess of liberty) on the small coins. The name of the artist is present on the coins with the standing Helvetia and the herder.
The seventh series was printed in 1984, but kept as a "reserve series", ready to be used if, for example, wide counterfeiting of the current series suddenly happened. When the Swiss National Bank decided to develop new security features and to abandon the concept of a reserve series, the details of the seventh series were released and the printed notes were destroyed.
The Swiss franc is the currency and legal tender of Switzerland and Liechtenstein and also legal tender in the Italian exclave of Campione d'Italia. Although not formally legal tender in the German exclave of Busingen am Hochrhein (the sole legal currency is the euro), it is in wide daily use there; with many prices quoted in Swiss francs. The Swiss franc is the only version of the franc still issued in Europe.