Jamaica’s new banknotes have arrived and are slated for phased release into circulation in 2023.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, unveiled the printed polymer notes during a press conference at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) on Thursday (December 15).
“These notes are quite different from the notes that exist today. They feel different, they have different features, and in order for them to be in circulation the Bank of Jamaica has to work with the existing commercial banks to ensure that the [automated teller machines] ATMs can be reprogrammed to efficiently handle these notes,” Dr. Clarke outlined.
The overall currency circulation process could take up to six months, with an estimated June 2023 completion timeline.
The new series, which was announced by the Minister during the 2022/23 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives in March, includes the introduction of a $2,000 bill and a redesign of the entire suite of notes.
Dr. Clarke highlighted that they maintain the decades-old policy of reflecting Jamaica’s culture and history, “and particularly, on one side of the banknotes, any face that appears is the face of a National Hero or deceased Prime Minister”.
As such, all five late former Prime Ministers of Jamaica and the seven National Heroes are reflected on the six notes.
Dr. Clarke further pointed out that the notes are less susceptible to counterfeiting and are more user-friendly for persons who are visually impaired.
Central Bank Governor, Richard Byles, emphasised that in order to remain ahead of counterfeiters and more effectively mitigate and manage the risks associated with counterfeiting, “the BOJ has enhanced the integrity of Jamaica’s banknotes by incorporating more state-of-the-art security features in the new series of notes”.
He said the newly unveiled currencies will address public concerns that the existing $500 and $5,000 notes are not easily distinguishable, especially in low-light conditions.
“By giving each bank note distinctly different colors, the redesign of the notes ensures that each denomination can be easily and clearly recognised and distinguished from other bank notes,” Mr. Byles explained.
He reiterated that the new notes, which will be printed on polymer substrate, are expected to last at least 50 per cent longer than their predecessors, which have a lifespan of about two years.
Consequently, the BOJ says its banknote reorder quantities will be lower, as replacements will be done less frequently.
This is expected to result in cost savings and greater efficiency in the Central Bank’s currency replacement operations.
Arrangements are also being made for the disposal of the polymer waste material without compromising the environment, the BOJ said.
This is the second time in Jamaica’s history that a series of banknotes is being launched.
The banknotes were printed by British firm De La Rue, the world’s largest integrated commercial banknote printer, which Dr. Clarke thanked for the “quick job… to turn this around”.