BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 12th July 2019) – The new EC$50 polymer notes are currently in circulation around the region including St.Kitts-Nevis as the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) has officially embarked on phasing out paper money to the thin plastic film kind in the near future.

ECCB Governor Timothy Antoine, while speaking at the regional media launch at the ECCB Agency Office in Grenada in May this year, pointed out that fishermen and vendors were considered in the bank’s decision.

He shared that the polymer notes are designed to enhance security and usability of the EC notes.

“It is amazing to observe how commerce, banking and money have evolved over the past 3000 years; from barter to bitcoin, private money to Central Bank money and now crypto assets. Notwithstanding this long history, the fundamentals of money have not changed. Stripped to its core, money is based on trust and has three basic characteristics: unit of account, store of value and medium of exchange. To maintain trust and stay ahead of counterfeiters, our Central Bank has a duty of care; indeed an obligation to continually upgrade our notes,” he remarked.

Antoine went on to say: “I must also add today that our motivation is somewhat personal. You see on several occasions, I have been approached by fishermen and vendors; their inability to get value for their money after they’ve been soiled or torn.”

 “These stories have affected me. I have asked myself ‘How can the Central Bank help to ensure that these hard working folks get full value for their hard earned money?’ I believe the introduction of polymer notes will greatly ease that hardship,” he added.

He informed that in making recommendations to the Monetary Council, the ECCB considered the following options among polymer: Cotton paper which is what the paper notes are made from, cotton polymer combination and endurance high durability paper. 

According to the ECCB top official, from an economic standpoint, polymer notes are more cost effective than paper.

“Although polymer notes are more expensive to produce upfront, their extended lifespan means that the notes are replaced less often. Consequently, there will be a reduction in transportation and handling costs thus reducing the overall cost of cash for the ECCB commercial banks and credit unions.”

Additionally, he disclosed that as part of their due diligence, the ECCB consulted with the Bank of England, Bank of Scotland and the Bank of Canada about their experiences which they had changing from paper to polymer.

Antoine further commented that “Compared to paper notes, polymer notes are cleaner- resistant to dirt and moisture; more secure-they have advance security features which make them harder to counterfeit; more durable- they last at least three times longer than paper and they are more environmentally friendly.”

He noted: “Consequently, Fisher folks and vendors and the people of the ECCU [Eastern Caribbean Currency Union] will soon have in their hands bank notes that are cleaner, safer and stronger.”

The new EC$ 50 polymer note was scheduled for circulation in June while the $100, $20 and $10 are expected around August/September and the $5 expected to be issued in August/September 2020.

The new $50 bears the image of the late ECCB Governor Sir K. Dwight Venner.

The new notes feature raised bumps for the blind and visually impaired, and those shapes are:  circle ($5), X ($10), rectangle ($20), triangle ($50) and square ($100).

Those bumps, described as a unique tactile feature, have been used instead of braille because the ECCB recognizes that not all individuals in its member countries are able to read braille, and so common shapes have been used that everyone can recognize.

According to the ECCB, these polymer notes are produced from a thin transparent and flexible plastic film made from a versatile and complex material.