The Bank of Jamaica (BoJ) is implementing a number of technologically advanced measures to improve the quality of the country’s currency, ensure longer circulation periods, and guard against counterfeiting.
These strategies are expected to reduce costs to the Bank, as in the long term there will be less frequency in the printing of notes.
(Related Story: BoJ Launches Special 50th Anniversary Notes)
The measures were announced by Governor of the Bank, Brian Wynter, at the official launch of the BoJ’s special series of 50th anniversary commemorative banknotes, at the institution’s Nethersole Place location, downtown Kingston, on June 19.
The Governor explained that as part of the process of modernising the economy and bringing economic infrastructure into the 21st Century, the bank has introduced other payment channels, such as: electronic funds transfer system; a real time gross settlement system, which provides alternatives to the public, for transferring value, other than using cash.
“Despite this however, cash remains a predominant and preferred method of settlement, for many of us in Jamaica, and so the bank has to respond to the demand of the public for bank notes in parallel with our efforts to promote and deepen the use of non-cash instruments,” he said.
Therefore, Mr. Wynter explained, the bank has sought to increase the durability of banknotes, given the high humidity climate, and high-velocity movement of cash, which expose the notes to varying conditions that reduce the life of the notes rapidly. This affects the cost of providing banknotes, as more notes have to be provided to replace the notes which cannot be reissued.
To address this, the bank carried out extensive research over the years to find a more durable substrate (the material that the bank notes are printed on).
“Based on our research, the substrate on which our notes are printed is going to be changed or enhanced for all but one of the denominations that are currently in circulation – the $5,000 bank note. It will continue to be printed on pure cotton, as the main security thread (in this note) is a very special security thread, that is only compatible with a cotton-based material,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the $100 note, which is the most widely used, will be printed on material which is a composite of cotton and polymer, developed by a German security paper manufacturer, Luisenthal. “The durability of the $50, the $500 and the $1,000 note, will be enhanced by applying a varnish to the cotton substrate, after the notes have been printed,” he informed.
The BoJ Governor said while the initial cost for acquiring banknotes, because of the improved substrates, will be high, the bank will realise significant savings over time, because of the longer life of these notes.
Mr. Wynter noted that as part of its role in issuing and redeeming notes and coins, the BoJ has over the years, widened the range of denominations, popularised the use of coins for small value transactions, adopted a clean bank note policy, and acquired high speed, high-tech note-processing machines.
“We have included features on the currency notes that have assisted the public to differentiate between genuine bank notes and counterfeit banknotes,” he said, adding that the bank had also adopted design features for notes, aimed at assisting members of the public with vision impairment to be able to distinguish the various bank notes; and continually renews security features of notes, to keep ahead of counterfeiters.
Lauding the work of the BoJ, Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips, said over the years, there has been a reduction in the extent of counterfeiting, because of the security measures that have been put in place by the bank, in partnership with the world’s largest integrated commercial banknote printer, Thomas De La Rue.
The Minister said he is pleased with the central bank’s efforts to improve the quality of the country’s currency. “I know that the bank is committed to a process of continuous improvement in the security and durability of our currency, which is a long-term investment, that will protect the public and the economy from potential counterfeiters,” Dr. Phillips said.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter