Changing over to the euro – a challenge for banks


The turn of the century also witnessed the entry into effect of the euro on 4 January 1999. On 1 January 2002, the euro replaced the national currencies of countries in the euro area. BNP and Paribas fielded extensive means over several years to prepare for the economic, electronic and commercial change.

Preparing people and systems for the advent of the euro

The euro became the official currency of the Eurozone’s member countries on 4 January 1999. The new currency could be used as “book money” i.e., for banking entries, although coins and notes would enter circulation only three years later on 1 January 2002. The change was a major step for all French and European banks that had to be addressed effectively.

Game edited by Association française des banques (French Banks Association) to prepare clients to euro – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


At BNP, mobilisation began in 1996 with a budget of FRF 1.7 billion. By the end of 1997, nine hundred bank employees were working on the question of making the euro accessible to all customers in 1999. Managers, IT engineers, marketers and HR officers were all committed to the project. The challenge was above all an IT one, as 60,000 programs had to be updated to ensure that accounts were converted to euros. Five hundred specialists worked full-time to achieve this.

Assisting bank clients

Trans European Banking Services (TES) was established in 1997. The partnership between BNP and ten other European banking institutions was intended to facilitate trans-frontier transactions by centralising payments in and out from a single account. The purpose was to reassure both corporate and individual clients. A communication campaign therefore highlighted the BNP “Operation Euro”. From 25 November 1997 until 2002, the bank fielded a euro awareness area – the Eurokiosk – for clients in its 2000 branches. The kiosk, which was as broad as a “Morris” advertising column, featured instructional posters and brochures.



Affiche publicitaire dédiée à l'"Eurokiosque" BNP, 1997 - Archives Historiques BNP Paribas, Euro RSCG

Advertising poster dedicated to “Eurokiosk” BNP, 1997 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives, Euro RSCG

In 2001, the bank made use of students named “Euro angels” to help make clients’ day-to-day experience in the branch easier. The “Euro angels” helped permanent staff in answering clients’ questions and assisting them in this important change.


Gathering of 5000 “Euro angels” in Paris for training, 17 november 2001 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives

Paribas celebrated the birth of the euro on 4 January 1999 with an advert published in the Financial Times, The Economist, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal that stated “Get the Euro working for you with Paribas”.

Paribas célèbre le passage à l'euro dans son immeuble situé 37, place du Marché Saint-Honoré, 1999 - Archives historiques BNP Paribas

Paribas celebrates the changeover to the euro in its building in Paris, 37, place du Marché Saint-Honoré, 1999 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


Mounting challenges

The bank had to implement two simultaneous and major programs while preparing for the euro: the Y2K or “millennium bug” and merge the information systems of BNP and Paribas following the merger.

The bank’s IT experts began working on the millennium bug in 1996, a glitch that threatened networked computers and thousands of ATMs. This basically concerned every appliance equipped with a processor and an electronic clock. In the second half of 1999, emergency intervention systems were implemented and Y2K compatibility verifications were conducted with BNP clients and suppliers.

On 31 December 1999, the eve of the leap into the 21st century, banks closed and undertook massive data backups. IT engineers celebrated the New Year in front of their screens. In the end, the euro entered French life without the slightest glitch or bug.

2000 would be another challenge for the bank: the merger of BNP and Paribas IT data after the two groups merged. That operation was successfully completed in the dynamic of change.

Archives historiques BNP Paribas


Contact us / Send us a document

    This website has a cultural and historical purpose; it is not intended to deal with trade and banking relationship issues which will not be processed. See moreless

    If you have a document, a photo, a story about BNP Paribas history and want to share it, please do not hesitate to share it there.

    In transmitting this document, you certify to own it and to hold the property rights needed for their use. You authorize BNP Paribas to use it on the website Source of History.

    Thank you for indicate the origin of the documents and give us any information you consider relevant to its understanding.

    The personal data collected on this form is processed by BNP Paribas SA for processing. It allows us to provide a personalised answer to your requests (access to archives, research, information requests. Please note that fields identified by an asterisk (*) are mandatory.

    For more information on the processing of your personal data, you can access our Data Protection Notice.


    Suscribe to Well of History's newsletter

    The personal data collected from the Site are subject to data processing by BNP Paribas to enable access to and use of the functionalities offered by the Site
    Pursuant to the French Data Protection Law No. 78-17 of 6 January 1978, you are entitled to access the data collected by BNP Paribas and to have it amended, updated or deleted, where such information is incorrect, incomplete or outdated. You can exercise this right by contacting: BNP Paribas – APAC TDC Val de Marne, TSA 30233- 94729 FONTENAY SOUS BOIS Cedex.


    Files download

    I undertake to make private use of the contents downloaded from the website


    You have added an item to your selection.

    You can find your saved contents in the “My space” section, which can be accessed at the top right of any page of the website.

    My space English A+ A-

    To find this content on your next visit, you need to create an account from this section, by clicking on:

    Fermer Welcome to

    Well of History

    Since 1822, history has made us a key player and a witness of transformations taking place in society and economy in Europe and around the world. We invite you to share in our story and explore our archives to learn more about our constantly changing world.
    Jean Lemierre Jean Lemierre,
    of BNP Paribas