Polymer banknotes in ATMs by end Dec. – BSP

The banking networks’ cash-processing machines including automated teller machines (ATM) will be able to dispense polymer banknotes by end-December this year, said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) officials on Friday, June 10.

The BSP timeline is end-December 2022 for banks located in the National Capital Region (NCR) and by end-June 2023 for banks in areas outside of the NCR. Presently, the P1,000 polymer banknotes are only available via over-the-counter in major bank branches.

Polymer P1,000 banknote

As reported earlier by Manila Bulletin, the BSP will release 158.4 million of P1,000 polymer banknotes in September after an intial 10 million pieces test run last April. The BSP will circulate another 331.6 million of polymer money in 2023. The total public circulation of the P1,000 polymer banknotes is 500 million pieces which will be released in phases, from April this year until April 2023.

BSP senior currency specialist, Xyza Jane S. Templonuevo, of the Currency Policy and Integrity Department, assured the public that banks are on track in the recalibration of their ATMs to meet the December deadline.

Templonuevo, in a virtual press briefing Friday, said banks have been advised that they should complete recalibration of the ATMs or the automated banknote processing machines as scheduled.

The polymer banknotes are outsourced and printed by Note Printing Australia, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The BSP currently has no capacity to produce polymer banknotes.

“We are still at the circulation test phase (so it’s still a small volume),” said Templonuevo. The issuance of a full set of polymer banknotes will depend on the results of year-long circulation test.

“We are considering cost-effectiveness also as a metric in the circulation test. We’re also looking at the security, durability, environmental impact in a full cost-benefit analysis,” said the BSP official, adding that they are optimisic that the central bank will achieve cost savings in the use of polymer, similar with other countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia.

BSP manager Minard T. Reyes, in-charge of the Greater Manila Regional Office, said all cash-related machines and other devices that are aligned with payment systems, such as counting, sorting and other cash-processing machines, vending machines, deposit-taking machies, and ATMs, are all included in the end-December 2022 deadline for NCR and end-June 2023 for banks outside of the NCR.

The gradual release of the plastic-based bills is intended to allow the BSP time to “assess the benefits and costs associated with a shift to polymer.”

The central bank has conducted technical briefings for bank personnel, machine suppliers, and cash-in-transit service providers to educate them on the design and security features of the polymer banknotes.

In an email, Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president and East West Banking Corp. CEO Antonio C. Moncupa Jr. said banks will need time to ensure a smooth adoption of polymer banknotes to “avoid public inconvenience” since once recalibrated ATMs are installed, there will have to be “standard testing practice” that could take more time.

Other banks such as BDO Unibank Inc., Bank of the Philippine Islands, Security Bank Corp. and Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. have all said that they are prepared to comply with the BSP mandate and timeline in making polymer banknotes available via ATMs by the end of this year. The BSP expects banks to compete with each other as the first to have polymer banknotes in their ATMs.

The BSP and banks have a memorandum of agreement to cover polymer familiarization by all banks and calibration of existing cash processing machines, vending machines, ATMs, bills acceptors, and other similar devices for compatibility with polymer banknotes.

The BSP has decided to circulate the waterproof and dirtproof polymer banknotes for its hygienic and sanitary values. These are important features for a banknote especially in a pandemic, said BSP.