92% of ATMs now have polymer banknotes – BSP

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced that 92 percent of all automated teller machines (ATMs) or about 17,304 ATMs across the country, are now dispensing the dirt-free, water-proof polymer banknotes as of end-December 2022.

The BSP said the polymer banknotes, which are only available in P1,000 denomination, will have a circulation of 500 million pieces this year, of which around 39 million was released last year. This was only 7.8 percent of the total polymer banknotes to be circulated.

Polymer P1,000 banknote

“As of end-December 2022, 17,304 ATMs or 92 percent of the total number of ATMs in the country have been recalibrated by banks to dispense the 1000-Piso polymer banknotes. Up to 7,274 of these polymer-ready ATMs are located in the National Capital Region (NCR),” the BSP said.

There are a total 23,077 ATMs nationwide as of end-September 2022. By end-June this year, all banks located outside of the NCR should also be able to dispense polymer money.

The BSP is gradually releasing the slated 500 million polymer banknotes to allow banks and the public time to get used to plastic-based bills. And, particularly for banks, to give the industry time to reclalibrate their ATMs.

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

“While the BSP continues the phased issuance of 1000-Piso polymer banknotes, the central bank reminds the public, retailers, and banks to accept folded banknotes, whether paper or polymer, as they are legal tender and can be used for daily payment transactions,” said the BSP.

It added that “if doubtful on the value and/or authenticity of a banknote, the public is encouraged to go to any bank for assistance. The bank will then submit the banknote to the BSP for examination.”

It was in April 2022 when the BSP released an initial 10 million polymer banknotes as a test run.

The plan was to release a total 158.4 million of polymer banknotes in 2022 after the initial circulation, and to make available 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.

However, the BSP said it will save as much as P2.4 billion in circulating polymer banknotes which has a longer lifespan compared to paper-based money.

BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto E. Tangonan said previously that at the end of the polymer circulation test this year, 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 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.