Polymer banknotes available in select ATMs

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday, Oct. 27, announced that the P1,000 polymer banknotes can already be withdrawn in some 2,425 automated teller machines (ATMs) in selected areas.

Banks’ recalibration of ATMs are expected to be completed by December this year. The initial 2,425 ATMs were already “polymer-ready” since August but it will start dispensing plastic-based banknotes which were first circulated in April but can only be availed of via over-the-counter branches, today.

In a Tweet on Thursday, the BSP said the select ATMs can dispense both polymer and the paper-based banknotes. There are a total 23,025 ATMs nationwide as of end-June this year.

Polymer P1,000 banknote

Last April, an initial 10 million polymer banknotes were circulared by the BSP. The test run will include a total 500 million pieces to be released until 2023.

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.

The BSP released 158.4 million of P1,000 polymer banknotes in September after its first test run last April. The BSP will circulate another 331.6 million of polymer money in 2023.

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.

The BSP said earlier that 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 machines, 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.

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.

In a recent Senate hearing on polymer banknotes, BSP disclosed that it will save as much as P2.4 billion in circulating polymer banknotes which has a longer lifespan compared to paper-based money.

“Using data on the actual volume of 2021 new banknote withdrawals by banks from the BSP and lifespan assumptions ranging from 2.5 times to 4 times longer than that of paper, estimated production savings amount to P1.2 –2.4 billion, holding other factors constant,” according to BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto E. Tangonan.

Tangonan said that at the end of the polymer circulation test which is until 2023, the BSP will come out with its findings on weather or not plastic-based banknotes present more benefits to Filipinos compared to paper-based banknotes.

“(The BSP) has developed a polymer evaluation framework that consist of empirical studies to be undertaken no later than 2024 – these would help us assess objectively if the reported benefits hold under Philippine condition,” Tangonan assured politicians and the abaca industry players who were present during the Senate deliberations.

The BSP’s planned polymer evaluation framework will cover the following: carbon footprint analysis (lifecycle analysis); microbial contamination analysis; perception surveys and sentiment analysis; and banknote lifespan analysis.

Tangonan explained further that with a longer lifespan, banknote issue expenses “could be reduced by 40 percent to 60 percent per experience of other central banks.