Latvijas Banka ensures cash circulation in Latvia and participates in ensuring cash circulation in the euro area.

In 2021, net issuance of euro banknotes by Latvijas Banka followed an upward path (from –225.00 million euro in 2020 to –56.9 million euro in 2021). However, despite the increase, it is still negative. Meanwhile, issuance of euro coins by Latvijas Banka picked up from 79.7 million euro in 2020 to 86.3 million euro in 2021. Thus, at the end of 2021 net issuance of euro banknotes and coins by Latvijas Banka stood at 29.4 million euro.

Chart 1
Net issuance of euro banknotes and coins by Latvijas Banka (millions of euro)

As to the number of banknotes, their issuance by Latvijas Banka increased by 14.2% during 2021 (to 61.9 million banknotes). At the end of 2021, 50 euro banknotes, followed by 20 euro banknotes and 10 euro banknotes (35.2 million, 13.6 million, and 13.6 million respectively) issued by Latvijas Banka were the most popular banknotes in circulation.

Chart 2
Net issuance of euro banknotes by Latvijas Banka (by denomination; 2014–2021; number in millions)

Meanwhile, net issuance of coins by Latvijas Banka edged up by 8.6% number-wise in 2021, reaching 427.3 million coins by the end of December. As to the coins issued by Latvijas Banka, 1 cent and 2 cent coins (135.7 million and 114.1 million respectively) were the most popular coins in circulation at the end of 2021. Latvijas Banka has started practical and real action to reduce the number of 1 cent and 2 cent coins in circulation. First, in the cash circulation cycle our cooperation with partners (banks and their agents, cash collection companies) focused on reducing the number of small denomination coins in circulation. Second, we encourage everyone to bring the saved coins to Latvijas Banka and credit the amount equivalent to the value of coins to their bank accounts. In particular, we invite public benefit organisations to use this opportunity as they can freely exchange coins in unlimited numbers by registering with Latvijas Banka. Third, the near future will see modernisation of the euro coin exchange process, which will involve automation of the Cashier's Office of Latvijas Banka and will allow people to exchange coins via automated machines.

In 2021, Latvijas Banka has also continued informing the public about the possibility to round the total sales amount in cash to significantly reduce the number of 1 cent and 2 cent coins in circulation and save public resources in general.

Chart 3
Net issuance of euro coins by Latvijas Banka (by denomination; 2014–2021; number in millions)

The cash received from credit institutions was checked for fitness and authenticity by automated cash processing systems of Latvijas Banka. They processed 122.2 million banknotes in 2021, i.e. 8.6% less than in 2020. 8.4% (10.3 million) of the processed banknotes were identified as unfit for further circulation and destroyed.

In 2021, Latvijas Banka continued to register merchants engaged in handling and recirculating of euro banknotes and coins and to monitor their operation. A merchant is entitled to handle and recirculate euro banknotes and coins in the Republic of Latvia upon registering with Latvijas Banka as a cash handling institution. At the end of 2021, 42 cash processing institutions were registered in Latvia. Latvijas Banka conducted inspections of cash handlers and assessed the compliance of their operation with the requirements of laws and regulations governing cash handling. In 2021, nine inspections of cash handlers were carried out.

In 2021, Latvijas Banka continued to withdraw lats banknotes from circulation. In 2021, the lats banknotes and coins received from circulation by Latvijas Banka totalled 0.7 million lats (0.6 million lats in banknotes and 0.1 million lats in coins). At the end of 2021, lats banknotes and coins worth 40.4 million lats and 43.9 million lats respectively were in circulation. At the end of December 2021, the 5 lats and 20 lats banknotes (1.7 million and 0.8 million respectively) and the 1 santim and 2 santim coins (149.5 million and 89.6 million respectively) accounted for the majority of banknotes and coins in circulation in terms of number.

In 2021, Latvijas Banka, AS Citadele banka, AS SEB banka, AS Swedbank, the Finance Latvia Association and AS Luminor Bank Latvia Branch signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on Ensuring Access to Cash for Residents of Latvia. The Memorandum mainly aims at ensuring access to cash for residents across the entire territory of Latvia.

In the framework of the Memorandum, an agreement was reached on maintaining the number of ATMs in cities of national significance, excluding Riga. In Riga and elsewhere in Latvia, the Memorandum imposes the maximum scope of changes in the number of ATMs, i.e. a credit institution may reduce the number of its ATMs in Riga and elsewhere in Latvia by 5% at the same time ensuring the availability of an ATM within a 20 kilometre radius from any place in the Republic of Latvia. The availability of an ATM should be ensured every day for at least 12 hours from 6.00 a.m. to 12 a.m. or if the ATM is installed in a public space or public outdoor space with limited accessibility, during the time when the respective public space or the public outdoor space is accessible to the public.

In cooperation with the map publisher SIA Jāņa Sēta, a map solution was developed with information about all ATMs installed in Latvia. This map solution is published on Latvijas Banka's website and offers everyone an opportunity to find the closest ATM for cash withdrawals.