From cotton paper to polymer: the EC dollar will make this transition by May/June this year, beginning with new $50 notes.
Rosbert Humphrey, acting director of the Currency Management Department at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), said the move to polymer has a range of benefits, the chief being that the EC dollar will be almost impossible to counterfeit.
Humphrey and his colleague Shermalon Kirby, adviser of the Corporate Relations Department at the ECCB, visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines Jan. 10 to 11 to meet with and engage target groups on this development.
While in SVG, the ECCB representatives met with persons from insurance companies and credit unions, commercial banks, government revenue and collection agencies, money transfer services and supermarkets, counterfeit experts and the media.
Following the release of the new polymer $50 notes in May/June, new $10, $20s, and $100 will be issued in August/September and new $5 will follow in 2020. Humphrey explained that the reason for the time difference depends on the existing stock of notes in the vault.
He said that the ECCB will not be withdrawing paper notes and putting polymer into circulation.
Rather, as soon as a denomination is depleted, they will put polymer in circulation and both will co-circulate until the paper notes completely phase out, he explained.
Some major changes to the new EC polymer notes include a portrait orientation instead of the landscape orientation of the paper notes and the addition of modernised images and landmarks from the Eastern Caribbean.
Additionally, a unique tactile feature, that is a combination of raised bumps, has been added to each of the new bank notes; a circle on the fives, an X on the 10s, a rectangle on the 20s, a triangle on the 50s and a square on the 100s.
This is mainly to cater for the blind and visually impaired so they can now feel the unique feature on the note and know what their bank notes are.
Additionally, the new 50s will now have a picture of the Pitons in St. Lucia and a picture of former ECCB Governor the late Sir K. Dwight Venner.
At the meeting with the media and counterfeit experts, Kirby passed around samples of the new EC polymer notes for persons to examine.
She said that the ECCB will roll out a major sensitisation and awareness campaign across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union ahead of the transition from cotton paper to polymer EC bank notes.