Money Talks: How to Handle New Polymer Banknotes

With new polymer banknotes in circulation, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas released guidelines on how to handle them properly.

Sanitizing everything we touch has become a norm ever since the pandemic. From everyday items like our phones to our online parcels and even our hands, this, of course, also translates to the money and coins that pass many, many hands.

But thing is, alcohol and paper don’t go well together. This, among other reasons, led the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to release polymer banknotes, starting with the PHP1,000 bill.

According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno, “the use of polymer banknotes is better compared to paper banknotes now amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), since the former can be sanitized easily with less risk of damage to the banknotes.”

Moreover, these new polymer bills will deter counterfeiting attempts. “Indeed, the central bank is really pushing through with a redesign to protect the integrity of our money,” explained Atty. Sarah Severina Curtis, the BSP Banknotes and Securities Production Management Department deputy director.

“The 1,000-peso note is a natural target of forgers as the banknote with the highest denomination,” she added. “The first line of defense against counterfeiting is a portrait in front of the bill.”

These polymer banknotes were released on April 18, 2022, and will continue to be rolled out along with the 1,000-peso paper banknotes. “We would like to reiterate that there will be no demonetization of any currency during the Governor’s term,” Atty. Curtis added.

Proper Care Guidelines

While these new polymer banknotes are more durable than their paper counterpart, they still need to be taken care of properly. Thus, in a Twitter post last Tuesday, the BSP released guidelines on the proper handling of these banknotes. These include:

  • Keeping them flat: choose wallets where bills can fit properly
  • Not folding them excessively: crumpled and creased banknotes can leave permanent fold marks
  • Using these banknotes as payment for goods and services: do not hoard, buy, or sell them at a higher price
  • Keeping them clean: dirty banknotes can be wiped with a damp cloth with alcohol-based sanitizers
  • Not defacing, writing on, or marking the banknotes: remember that Philippine laws impose penalties on defacing currencies
  • Not tearing, cutting, or poking holes in the banknotes
  • No stapling or using rubber bands on polymer banknotes: this can cause permanent marks. If you need to keep them together, you can use a paper band
  • Not damaging the clear windows and metallic features of the polymer bills
  • Not exposing polymer banknotes to high temperatures or near an open flame: the bills can deform or melt.
  • Not ironing them
  • Not exposing the banknotes to strong toxic chemicals such as bleach or muriatic acid

Since April, millions of PHP1,000 polymer banknotes have been in circulation. “This will be initially through over-the-counter. And maybe in six months’ time, you will see it in your ATMs (automated teller machines). I understand they (banks) have to reconfigure the ATMs,” Diokno said in a virtual briefing.

While printing these banknotes can be more expensive, polymer banknotes are a common standard in other countries and are being used in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. “Since it’s more durable, it will be more cost-effective,” the BSP said.


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