Update: BOJ rolls out counterfeit banknote detection campaign
The Bank of Jamaica, BOJ, has rolled out a public information campaign to sensitise users and financial institutions on how to recognise counterfeit polymer banknotes that entered circulation in mid-June. The central bank advises in the meantime...
The Bank of Jamaica, BOJ, has rolled out a public information campaign to sensitise users and financial institutions on how to recognise counterfeit polymer banknotes that entered circulation in mid-June.
The central bank advises in the meantime that no counterfeits of its new notes have come to its attention.
The new polymer notes that were unveiled last December and released into circulation five months ago come in six denominations: $50, $100, $500, $1,000, a new $2,000 bill, and $5,000.
“To date, there has been no incident of counterfeit in respect of polymer banknotes. The Bank of Jamaica is not investigating any case of counterfeit notes,” BOJ affirmed in response to the Financial Gleaner.
The counterfeit campaign comes as banking institutions make headway on retrofitting their machines to accept and dispense the polymers.
On Thursday, National Commercial Bank Jamaica, the most advanced in the retrofitting project among eight banking institutions, said it has now achieved 100 per cent transformation of its intelligent ABMs, or iABMs, to accept polymer deposits and dispense cash – encompassing 141 machines.
In total, NCB now has an ABM network of 298 machines, of which 157 are regular cash dispensers and 141 are iABMs. Its transformation project included the procurement of five new iABMs and the retirement and replacement of 60 regular ABMs that were at the end of their life cycle, the bank said.
During a Financial Gleaner review of bank readiness for the notes in September, the Bankers Association of Jamaica said the preparations included investment in new fraud-detection technology.
“Polymer notes have advanced security features that require specialised equipment for authentication and counterfeit detection. Our banks will have had to invest in additional security measures to align with the new protections against fraud and counterfeiting,” said Septimus ‘Bob’ Blake, who was then president of the association.
“Security is being addressed in collaboration with the central bank,” he said.
As for individuals handling the new bills, to ascertain whether the money they hold is fake, the central bank says they should run their fingers over the top right-hand corner at the back of the note to feel the raised dots feature, which is so designed to mainly assist the visually impaired.
“As you tilt the note, areas with a shimmering gold ink can be seen. There is a silver ink that has a highly reflective mirror-like finish,” the central bank said.
Under ultraviolet, or UV, lighting, there are some areas of the note that glow in two colours. Examination will also reveal the denomination of the bill in hidden locations.
Polymer notes have been introduced in other Caribbean jurisdictions as well, including Barbados, the OECS or Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, and Trinidad & Tobago. The OECS, which is served by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, is comprised of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.
At a meeting of the Caricom central bankers chaired by BOJ Governor Richard Byles at the top of November, the bank chiefs agreed to continue sharing operational information about the new currency.
In July, the Central Bank of Barbados, CBB, moved swiftly to tamp down on information spreading across social media that counterfeit polymers were in circulation in the island of 282,000 people.
“While the bank will not confirm the authenticity of any banknote without first having examined it in person, some of the security features found on genuine Barbadian polymer notes, such as the transparent window, are visible in the images. Rather, the notes appear to have to come into contact with a harsh chemical that removed some of the ink,” said CBB.
“The bank confirms that to date it has received no fake notes from the 2022 polymer banknote series, but reminds the public that the notes are not impossible to counterfeit. It therefore encourages people to continue to check their money using the security features incorporated in them.”
CORRECTION: This story has been updated in parts to reflect that while the new banknotes were formally unveiled in December 2022, they were released into circulation later on June 15, 2023.