Bank of Botswana said it will issue a new P10 polymer banknote into circulation in February 1, 2018. According to the apex Bank, the move was taken in response to persistent public concerns regarding the poor quality of the current circulating P10 paper banknote.
In accordance with Section 24 (2) of the Bank of Botswana Act [CAP. 55:01], the Bank took the decision, to change the substrate for the P10 banknote, with the approval of the Minister of Finance and Economic Development.
In addition to addressing the durability of the banknote, the conversion to polymer enables the adoption of more advanced security features, such as see-through windows that contain hard-to-forge images, hence curtailing the potential for currency counterfeiting and enhancing confidence in the national currency,” the Bank said.
As the lowest denomination, the P10 banknote has the highest circulation rate and stays longer in circulation compared to higher denominations. Under normal circumstances, the current paper P10 banknote is expected to remain in circulation for a period of approximately four (4) months. However, it has been observed that the current P10 banknote tends to remain in circulation for a period of approximately eight (8) months because it is largely used as change. It would thus, be highly soiled by the time it is deposited at the Bank for sorting and destruction, as may be necessary.”
Over the years, the Bank has used a number of mitigation strategies which, although successful to a certain extent, have not effectively resolved the durability problem of the current P10 banknote. These include extensive public education campaigns to sensitise the public on proper handling of banknotes. The campaigns also sought to clarify that the paper used in the production of the P10 banknote is the same paper used for other banknote denominations. Furthermore, a varnish was applied on the P10 banknote to extend its lifespan.
This notwithstanding, the quality of the P10 banknote continues to be a principal public concern; partly due to the fact that, because of its low value, but high circulation, it is rarely deposited with commercial banks for onward transmission to the Bank for sorting, destruction and replacement. Consequently, the Bank determined that the high number of soiled P10 banknotes in circulation, has the potential to undermine public confidence in the quality of the national currency, and, also, likely to tarnish the country’s image.
The Polymer Substrate
The polymer substrate is a thin, clear plastic film that can be printed on, similar to the paper substrate. This substrate enables the adoption of more advanced, high-technology security enhancements and features, such as holograms and see-through windows that contain hard-to-forge images; hence curtailing the potential for currency counterfeiting. In addition to being more secure, the polymer substrate is more durable than the paper substrate; polymer typically extends the lifespan of a banknote by approximately 3 – 4 times that of a banknote made of paper substrate.
Therefore, the main benefit of the polymer substrate is the enhanced durability of the banknote. This translates into reduced production, storage and transportation costs because of fewer numbers of replacement orders. The non-absorbent nature of the polymer substrate provides an effective barrier to moisture and soiling, which keeps banknotes clean for a longer period.
The new polymer P10 banknote was preceded by a protracted design process, which started in January 2016, and involved evaluating the potency and desirability of replacing the paper substrate with the much more durable polymer substrate. This exercise included benchmarking and evaluating both the performance and acceptability of a polymer banknote in other countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The designs were concluded in 2016 and approval processes in mid-2017.