|Cyprus and Malta, two small island states where many online gambling firms are based, have this week joined 13 other nations in adopting the Euro, the European Union’s common currency.|
Although both nations combined have a population of only 1.2 million, Malta and Cyprus will now have equal voting rights with the other 13 Euro-zone members at the European Central Bank.
Both nations prepared thoroughly for the changeover with Cyprus sending 300,000 currency converters to households and officials in Malta running a Euro telephone hotline alongside 59 Euro Centres to answer questions from citizens.
Both the Maltese Lira and the Cypriot Pound are to remain legal tender until the end of January to help with the transition. Commercial banks in Malta have agreed to exchange old currency for Euros free of charge until the end of March with the central bank allowing the exchange of Lira notes until 2018. In Cyprus, Euros can be exchanged free of charge until the end of June with the Central Bank allowing the exchange of notes until 2017.
Michalis Sarris, Finance Minister for Cyprus, stated that the Euro would benefit consumers and businesses alike because of the Euro-zone's low inflation, low interest rates and large market.
In Cyprus, many businesses in the Turkish-controlled north have already begun accepting the Euro and cross-border commerce is flourishing. Although the island has been divided since a war in 1973 and only the southern half having adopted the Euro, Turkish Cypriot authorities opened crossing points in 2003 prompting northern shoppers to go south in search of greater choice with southerners heading north for bargains and casinos.
The Euro will also become legal tender on British military bases in Cyprus, the first part of sovereign British territory to adopt the currency.