Swiss Money

11 Feb

When people think about Switzerland one of the first things that springs to mind is money. If you have visited you will know that Switzerland is expensive and you will probably need more money than you thought you would for your visit. Switzerland is also home to many financial institutions and combined with its banking secrecy laws, it is a perfect place for people to squirrel away money.

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Either way you cannot deny the fact that Switzerland is synonymous with money. Being that as it may, I still find the money a bit baffling.The notes look like they would not be out of place in a Monopoly set: bright yellow, reddy-pink, green and blue are the colours of the notes that are most commonly in circulation. All of them are slightly different sizes to one another. I believe that this is primarily to help the blind and those with vision difficulties to work out which note is which when they come to pay for something.

So far so good, the notes are no problem. I still find it strange that it is never a problem to pay in a high denomination bank note for something that is relatively cheap. For example, in the newsagents, it would be no problem to handover a 100 Frank note for a newspaper that costs 4 Franks. There is no need to apologies and make excuses, such as, “Sorry I only just went to the cash machine and I don’t have any change yet”. The cashier will not bat an eyelid and hand over 96 Franks in change, without saying a word.

The equivalent in the UK would be paying for a 1 pound newspaper with a 20 pound note. The cashier will inevitably tut, ask if you have anything smaller, mutter under his breath that he doesn’t have much change left and begrudingly hand over 19 pounds in change. You feel completely ashamed as you shuffle past other customers in the shops and try not to make eye contact with them.

Interestingly, in Switzerland you can pay with what ever denomination of money you have on you, whether in the city or up a mountain at a small chalet which serves refreshments to hikers and nature lovers, and there is never a problem at all.

With the coins, however, confusion reigns supreme. The problem is that the coins are all virtually the same colour and apart from the 5 Frank coin (there is no 5 Franc note) they are all the same size and shape. The exception to this is the 5 Rappen coin. This is distinctively smaller and a gold colour, even though having 90 of these coins will buy you next to nothing.

This causes bewilderment when you need to pay the cashier in coins. You desparately fumble through your purse trying to find the right coin. But as they are all the same shape and size, this turns into a monumental task. Each coin needs to be carefully examined to determine what it actually is. You convince yourself that this must be the 20 Rappen coin that you have been hopelessly searching for, only to discover it is a 10 Rappen coin! By now the cashier is looking at you with despair and you can feel the evil stares of the other customers gouging into your soul. Then you give up and decide to pay by card and leaving the small mountains of coins still in your purse.

 

On the positive side, when you come to sort out your purse and tot up how much you have been lugging around with you, the amount is always significant. All of these coins that are completely unassuming suddenly add up to 15 Franks and that is enough for 2 pints of beer. Happy days!

I wonder if the money is a metaphor for the country: small, unassuming but when you look closely it is more valuable than at first sight.

2 Responses to “Swiss Money”

  1. Confuzzled Bev February 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    The half francs and 10 rappens are the worst for looking almost the same. And why half a franc anyway? WHat’s wrong with just “50” like in every other currency? I try to keep the “big” coins (5s, 2s, 1s and halfs) in one section of my purse and the rest in the other section to minimise confusion.

    The notes still look like toy money to me. Surely real money can’t be that bright and cheerful? 😉

    • ourgirlinzurich February 14, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

      I agree with you on this one! I might try your trick with the “big” coins. They all look the same in the bottom of my purse! 🙂

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