Money Hayst: Can You Fold the New P1,000 Polymer Bill?

To fold or not to fold? A post about a mall refusing to accept a slightly folded polymer banknote went viral and here’s what the concerned parties have to say.

Since April 18, 2022, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) rolled out new P1,000 polymer bills, which are not only more durable and easier to sanitize but can also deter counterfeiting attempts. And although printing them can be more expensive, polymer banknotes have been a common standard in other countries, as they are being used in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Months after being rolled out, the BSP released guidelines on how to properly care for said polymer banknotes. These include basics like wiping dirty banknotes with a damp cloth or with alcohol-based sanitizers, as well as not defacing, tearing, cutting, poking holes, and stapling polymer banknotes. Likewise, ironing, or exposing them to high heat and chemicals, is a huge no-no, as this can deform the banknotes, making them unusable.

But out of all those provisions, one stood out—folding them.

The Full Story

Just this weekend, a social media post went viral as Facebook user Reylen Lopez expressed her frustrations when SM refused to accept her slightly folded P1,000 polymer banknote.

“Don’t store new [P1,000 bill]! As per SM’s management, it should not have folds,” Lopez advised in Filipino. “I was supposed to use [the banknote] for payment, but the mall did not accept it. We were not informed beforehand. Am I the only one who doesn’t know about this?”

As of writing, the post gained thousands of Facebook reactions and 78,000 shares or reposts, but Lopez has made the post private since then.

But why did this happen? According to Lopez, in an interview with Inquirer, she went to an SM Retail Store branch on Friday, July 8, at 6:45 PM to deposit her money into her bank account. “I already gave the transaction code to the teller [of the mall’s customer service]. I was about to pay when the teller saw that my [P1,000 banknote] was folded,” Lopez said in Filipino.

She further added that the teller did not accept the bill—even saying that as per the mall’s policy, they do not accept folded P1,000 polymer banknotes. And while the BSP has clear rules that don’t allow excessively folding or crumpling bills, as this can leave permanent marks, Lopez emphasized that the P1,000 polymer banknote that the teller refused to accept was only “slightly folded,” since it was placed in a folding wallet.

There were, in her words, no permanent marks.

As someone who works as a teller in her family business, Lopez is just as aware about the rules on money. This, however, was a first for her. “I was so frustrated because I had no idea. I was not informed even though we are also trained when it comes to detecting counterfeit money and what we should and should not accept,” she continued.

Hence why she took it to social media to advise the public about handling the new polymer banknotes. “That’s why I said in my post to not keep or store those P1,000 bills because, as it turns out, it was really delicate and prone to folds and creases.”

To Fold or Not to Fold?

Following news on this viral post, the mall in question released an official statement—one that reassured the public that folded banknotes are being accepted in SM Retail Stores. “In response to the information circulating on social media regarding the new P1,000 bill, we would like to assure the public that folded bank notes are still accepted in our SM Retail Stores,” SM Supermalls wrote.

“Only those that are mutilated—stapled and ripped caused by [the] removal of staple wire—will be deemed unfit and not accepted. Our policy has considered the guidelines set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” it added.

Likewise, the BSP themselves released a statement about the issue. “The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) informs the public that folded banknotes, whether paper or polymer, can still be circulated and accepted for payment. As such, retailers and banks should accept them for day-to-day transactions.”

Caring for Your Polymer Banknote

After making the viral post, Lopez told Inquirer that someone from BSP has reached out to her regarding the incident, which is currently under investigation. Moreover, the staff explained that a slightly folded polymer banknote did not constitute a violation. Only excessively folded polymer banknotes are considered unfit for recirculation and will not be accepted by establishments or for any transaction.

But what exactly does “excessively folded” constitute? According to BSP, this includes visible and permanent fold marks, which occur when polymer banknotes and paper banknotes get excessively folded, crumpled, and creased.

Since the post made its rounds on social media, many netizens expressed fear that their folded P1,000 polymer banknote would be deemed useless. To assuage these worries, BSP released an official statement on Monday. “The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) informs the public that folded banknotes, whether paper or polymer, can still be circulated and accepted for payment. As such, retailers and banks should accept them for day-to-day payment transactions,” the BSP said in a statement.

But when in doubt, the central bank advised the public that they can always go to any bank for assistance. “If an individual is doubtful on the value and/or authenticity of a banknote, he or she is encouraged to go to any bank for assistance. The bank will then refer the banknote to the BSP for examination,” it added.

Moreover, the central bank emphasized that the recent BSP-issued guidelines on how to properly handle polymer banknotes aslo applied to existing paper banknotes. “The handling guidelines were issued to raise public awareness on the proper use of polymer and paper banknotes to safeguard their integrity and prolong their lifespan.”

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