On January 1st 2008, Cyprus will switch currencies from the Cyprus pound to the euro. A good thing too; the cyprus pound isn't used anywhere else in the world, and has been artificially high for years. It's been fixed to the euro since July: 1 euro is approximately 0.58 Cyprus pound.
In preparation for this change, banks and shops have been required to show both euro and Cyprus pounds prices for several months now. The bigger shops have been showing both on till receipts as well as in the store, and probably won't find the change-over too hard. When people use debit or credit cards for paying, the process will be exactly the same. If they write cheques, they'll simply do so in their new euro-cheque books.
If they choose to pay cash, it will be a bit more complicated in January. Shops have to accept Cyprus pounds, but must give change in euros. If the tills are able to calculate the correct change, then there's no problem. But in the smaller shops, with single-currency tills (and, sometimes, assistants who struggle to do even simple arithmetic) the whole thing is going to be something of a nightmare.
In February, Cyprus pounds will cease to be legal currency (although I believe banks will continue to change them for a few months longer) and we'll just have euros.
Today we learned of a bizarre rule, which doesn't even make sense. At least, not to this non-Cypriot.
As I mentioned, both Cyprus pounds and euro prices have to be shown on goods for sale at present. Like this scraper which Richard bought this morning:
See that? £1 CY or €1.71
One of the shop assistants explained to Richard that, at present, the Cyprus pounds sticker has to be higher up on the product than the euro sticker. As in the photo.
However, from January, the law says that the euro price must be above the Cyprus pound one.
Fair enough, for new products arriving in the store after the New Year. But this applies to everything, apparently.
So shop assistants will have to spend New Year's Day peeling off one set of stickers from every item in the shop, and putting on another set, so that the euro price will be higher up than the Cyprus pound price.
Then, at the end of January, they'll have to remove the Cyprus pounds stickers altogether.
What a remarkable waste of effort, for something that most people won't even be aware of. Until it was pointed out, it hadn't even occurred to me that Cyprus pounds prices always show above euro ones.
I wonder if this happens in every country that changes currency, or only in Cyprus...