10 March 2022
The New Series of Jamaican Banknotes
Following the announcement by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. The Honourable Nigel Clarke in Parliament on 8 March 2022, Bank of Jamaica is pleased to introduce the new series of Jamaican banknotes. This new series is comprised of six denominations, given the introduction of a $2000 note. These new banknotes will be available to the public in the last quarter of this year and over time, will replace the current series of banknotes that are used to conduct daily transactions.
The $2000 note is being introduced in order to make it easier for the settlement of cash transactions.
Currently, there is significant reliance on the $1000 note to conduct daily transactions as its use has not been meaningfully impacted by the introduction of the $5000 note in 2009. As a result, the $1000 note is currently the most heavily used of all the five denominations. This over reliance on one denomination introduces inefficiencies in the execution of transactions, as over time, individuals have had to be using more notes to carry out the same transaction. In this regard, the introduction of the $2000 banknote will facilitate greater efficiency in the currency structure as individuals are expected to substitute the $2000 for the $1000 and therefore will require fewer banknotes to settle cash transactions. This substitution should also lead to lower costs for the Bank given that the unit cost for both of these denominations is the same.
The upgrade of Jamaica’s banknotes is aimed at achieving the following:
- Enhancing the security of the banknotes to combat counterfeiting
Counterfeiters are now using more sophisticated technology to threaten banknote security worldwide. As a result, in order to remain ahead of counterfeiters and manage the risks associated with counterfeiting, Bank of Jamaica has enhanced the integrity of our banknotes by incorporating state-of-the-art security features in the new series. Details of these security features will be released closer to the issue date for the new banknote series.
- Better satisfying the needs of the visually impaired
Each of the current banknotes has one feature which is dedicated to the visually impaired, that is either large numbering or tactile printing (recognised by touching and feeling). However, because of the substrate used, the effectiveness of these features on the current banknotes decreases over time with continued use of the notes. Consequently, this new banknote series includes an upgrade of the substrate which will allow for the longevity of the features for the visually impaired.
- Providing cost savings to Bank of Jamaica
The new notes will be printed on polymer substrate, which is a more durable substrate relative to that of the current banknotes. This will allow for an increase in the average circulation life of the banknotes by at least 50%. As a result, going forward, the banknote order quantities will be lower, with less frequency relative to current practice, thereby yielding cost savings to the Bank. Should the need arise for destruction of banknotes, arrangements are being made for disposal of the polymer waste without compromising the environment.
- Ensuring a clear distinction between the different denominations
There are currently concerns among members of the public that the $500 and $5000 banknotes are not easily distinguishable especially in low-light conditions. The redesign of the banknotes ensures that each denomination is clearly distinguishable given the distinct colours.
- Ensuring that the principles of fair trading are satisfied
This relates to ensuring that all security features on the banknotes, features for the visually impaired and the substrate itself, are readily available in the banknote manufacturing market. This prevents the Bank from locking itself into a situation whereby only one printer is able to provide a particular feature on any denomination. This is critical to allow for flexibility in respect of the choice of printer, thereby ensuring full competition and ensuring that the Bank gets the best value for money.
- Honouring all our National Heroes and deceased Prime Ministers
The Bank’s Currency Structure Policy indicates that subjects on the front of Jamaican banknotes are National Heroes and deceased Prime Ministers. However, with the evolution of Jamaica’s currency structure which has resulted in the demonetization of some banknote denominations and the coining of others, the current banknotes feature only two of the seven National Heroes and three of four deceased Prime Ministers. In order to ensure inclusivity and full representation of these outstanding Jamaicans, the task was to have the eleven eligible persons represented on the six new banknote denominations. In this regard, each banknote denomination will feature two individuals, who are paired according to their contribution to Jamaica, and as such are placed in the broad categories of: Freedom Fighters; Black Empowerment/Pan Africanist; Fathers of the Nation and Nation Builders. Notably, The Rt. Excellent Marcus Garvey will appear as a single subject given his status as Jamaica’s first National Hero. Notably, the proposal will not entail any subject being “downgraded” by being on a lesser value currency relative to what now pertains.
The reverse (back) of the banknotes will continue to feature Jamaican images that exist on the current notes. The back of the new $2000 banknote will feature the photograph of a group of children from the Central Branch Primary School (circa 1968) that was previously featured on the back of the $2.00, which was in circulation between 1969 and 1994 and is now demonetized.
In the context of the imminent rollout of Jam-Dex, Jamaica’s Central Bank Digital Currency, the introduction of the $2000 banknote and the redesign the family of Jamaican banknotes are not incongruent as it is anticipated that both Jam-Dex and physical cash will co-exist in the payment space in the near to medium term, and therefore, a cost-effective option is required for those persons wishing to still use cash as a means of payment.