BSP may issue P500 polymer banknotes in 2023

Published August 14, 2022, 8:10 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will circulate a second polymer banknote – P500 bills – next year after assessing the public’s acceptance of the first P1,000 polymer money.

BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla said over the weekend that the P500 polymer banknote, however, is unlikely to be issued in the first half of 2023.

Polymer P1,000 banknote

“Given the supply schedule (of the P1,000) the P500 polymer will not be available before end of June,” said Medalla.

As for the design of the P500 polymer banknote, the BSP previously stated that the photo circulating online of a purported P500 polymer banknote with the image of a Tarsier is fake. Only the P1,000 polymer banknote with a prominent Philippine Eagle design has been approved and the BSP has not issued any new banknote design for other denominations.

The central bank plans to circulate more polymer banknotes in different denominations such as P500 and P100 in the future, especially if the public will adapt well to the first batch of polymer circulation.

The BSP paid Note Printing Australia P3.7 billion to produce, supply and deliver 500 million pieces of P1,000 polymer banknotes. Note Printing Australia is a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The BSP currently has no capacity to produce polymer banknotes in its printing facility in Quezon City

Meantime, the BSP in July launched a dedicated webpage for the polymer banknotes to increase public awareness and encourage its use.

The website contains information of the circulation and release timeline of the polymer banknotes which has been initially circulated last April for a limited 10 million pieces, part of the 500 million pieces that BSP will circulate until 2023.

The next batch of polymer banknote release is October this year which will run until June 2023. The BSP will circulate another 490 million banknotes during this period.

This will bring the share of polymer banknotes to total number of P1,000 bills in circulation to 31.9 percent from 0.7 percent today.

The dedicated website showcases the polymer banknote’s design, benefits, and security features. It also includes guidelines on how to properly handle the polymer money, as well as its circulation timeline. Educational materials, such as information sheets and frequently asked questions, are also posted on the new webpage.

The BSP has announced earlier that the banking networks’ cash-processing machines including automated teller machines (ATM) will be able to dispense polymer banknotes by end-December this year.

At the moment, polymer banknotes are available via over-the-counter-services.

ATMs are unable to dispense these plastic-based money since at present set up, the polymer bills tend to stick to each other and the ATMs need to be recalibrated.

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.

In a previous interview, Bankers Association of the Philippines 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.

Polymer banknotes, which are waterproof and dirtproof, are made of synthetic polymer substrates. Since 1988, the world has been using polymer bills. The BSP has in fact been studying its use since 2008.

The BSP has decided to circulate polymer banknotes for its hygienic and sanitary values, and it is also significantly cleaner. These are important features for a banknote especially in a pandemic.

Polymer banknotes also have enhanced security and harder to counterfeit. It is durable because it has a longer lifespan and cost-effective since it is economical in the long term. It is likewise environment-friendly because it is recyclable.