ECB says worth reconsidering 500 euro note

BRUSSELS (AP) - A top European Central Bank official says it is "worth discussing" whether the 17-nation currency zone should abolish its 500 euro note, which critics say is often used in illegal activities.

ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio told European Parliament lawmakers on Wednesday "the note is not commonly used", suggesting it's "not so evidently a need of the payment system".

The euro notes, ranging from 5 to 500 euros, have not been changed since the currency's physical introduction in 2002. The 500 euro note at that time replaced the note of 1,000 German marks.

Critics say law-abiding citizens rarely use the 500 euro note, and that it is the favorite cash denomination of those doing illegal business as they seek to avoid electronic payment traces.