Jamaica Hitting Highs With New Notes, But Going Digital Too.

Image: Bank of Jamaica. The new bills have a number of safety features that will make them hard to forge.
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The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is reporting that 87 per cent of notes in circulation are the new polymer currency, which is replacing paper bank notes.

Is polymer the same as plastic?

The terms “polymer” and “plastic” are often used interchangeably, but there are noticeable differences between the two. Plastics are hydrocarbon-based polymeric materials derived from crude oil and natural gas and are a subset of polymers. Therefore, while all plastics are considered polymers, not all polymers are considered plastics.

The new series of polymer Jamaican banknotes comprise upgraded $50, $100, $500, $1,000 and $5,000 notes, and the newly introduced $2,000 bill.

They are considered to be hard to forge due to a number of safety features.

Polymer banknotes are banknotes made from a synthetic polymer such as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP).

Such notes incorporate many security features not available in paper banknotes, including the use of metameric inks.Polymer banknotes last significantly longer than paper notes, causing a decrease in environmental impact and a reduced cost of production and replacement.

Modern polymer banknotes were first developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Melbourne. Romania was the first country in Europe to issue a plastic note in 1999 and became the third country after Australia and New Zealand to fully convert to polymer by 2003.

Since that time numerous countries have adoped polymer money to replace paper money.

“Over time, the old notes are being redeemed at Bank of Jamaica. I had said some time ago that we are giving it two years from [the] issue date, which was last year June, before we actually demonetise those old notes,” said Deputy Governor, Natalie Haynes.

She was addressing the BOJ’s Quarterly Monetary Policy Press Conference on Tuesday (May 21).

Meanwhile, Ms. Haynes advised that Jamaicans are moving towards digital payments.

She explained that the statistics for digital banking, which take into account the means of payment and number of transactions, reveal that debit cards top the list.

Additionally, Ms. Haynes said Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) emerged as the leading transfer option used by Jamaicans.

“So that, to me and to us at Bank of Jamaica, is a sign in terms of the move away from cash to more digital payments using debit cards, credit cards and, of course, online transactions via the RTGS or the ACH (Automated Clearing House),” the Deputy Governor advised, citing challenges measuring the value of cash used for payments, to make a comparison.

“As we move and push our JAMDEX, that, of course, will contribute to other means of digital payments,” Ms. Haynes stated.

JAMDEX, launched in July 2022, is Jamaica’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Sources: Jamaica GIS, Wikipedia.
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