The Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy N.J. Antoine, said he was awaiting a full report from regional commercial banks on the compatibility of the new EC polymer notes with banks’ ATMs.
During a press conference on Wednesday, where the Central Bank officially launched the new $50 polymer notes that will be circulating in the Eastern Caribbean territories as of June 2019, Governor Antoine responded to questions about the new banknotes’ compatibility with current cash counting machines and ATMs.
Antoine said, “I know all of the licensees [commercial banks] are expected to make sure that their internal systems—not just their ATMs, but their counting machines—are compatible. That was what they are required to do as part of their due diligence.”
He added that the initial feedback from the banks was “positive” and all testing should be completed within the next few weeks.
Governor Antoine said the phasing out of polymer notes in the various Eastern Caribbean territories will depend on the current bank stocks of paper notes and the level of circulation of banknotes in the different territories.
He noted that the Central Bank and commercial banks were ready and have “polymer notes in almost every country ready for distribution. With the exception of Anguilla and Montserrat where they still have high stocks of paper notes, there is no point in putting in polymer if they are stocked on paper. As the paper depletes, eventually we put in polymer. In other countries that have high usage levels or rates, including Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, polymer notes are already in country and ready for distribution.”
He added that the $5, $10 and $20 normally last between six to nine months leading the notes in those denominations to phase out quicker than the $50 and $100 paper bank notes.
“The other issue is when we introduced the paper notes, so some notes were introduced three years ago, four years ago and some were introduced a year ago… it depends on wear and tear and the circulation in the economy, which I cannot predict.
“The more circulation, the more wear and tear, the faster that they get depleted and rendered unfit and returned to the Central Bank,” Governor Antoine said.