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Tanzania to replace bank notes with coins

Chalk up a victory for anyone concerned who believes coins rather than bank notes, checks, or any of the many forms of electronic and cyber payments should be in our future.

The Benki Kuu Ya Tanzania or Bank of Tanzania has recently announced it will be replacing a bank note with a coin due to durability issues.

Reverse of the current 500 shillingi bank note.

Reverse of the current 500 shillingi bank note.

On Sept. 7 BoT Director of Banking Service Emmanuel Boaz said, “Coins are more durable with a longer life span. Due to a wider circulation, the 500/-note [500-shilingi note] goes through many hands and gets easily spoilt.”

Boaz added, “Strange enough, the 500/-bills are not returned to the BoT as frequently as we had expected. That could be the reason for the bill to lose its physical value.”

The announcement came as a surprise. Although the 50-, 100-, and 200-shilingi coin are found in circulation it has been years since any of them have been issued. The 200 shilingi was introduced in 1998. It was the highest denomination coin in circulation in Tanzania at that time.

The supporting bank notes, including the 500 shilingi, were introduced in January 2011. Bank notes circulate in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 shilingi. The poor condition in which the 500 shilingi are usually encountered has become a problem.

According to a September 8 AllAfrica.com report, “BoT Governor Professor Benno Ndulu was once quoted by [a] section of media saying that through their investigation it was discovered that the 500/- bank note is the main medium of exchange.”

The AllAfrica.com article continues, “According to the governor, bank notes go into circulation for an average of seven months before starting to wear-off, after which they are collected and destroyed at the BoT base in Dar es Salaam.”

The banking services director has indicated both the coin and bank note will circulate simultaneously, the bank note being gradually withdrawn. A future date at which the note will be demonetized had not yet been set.

Examples of the new coin were not yet available at the time this article was being written. Boaz indicated the new coin is round, has a diameter of 27.5 millimeters and a weight of 9.5 grams. “It is also silver-colored made of iron and nickel minerals. In the front side there is an image of the first President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, while at the back there is an image of a buffalo.” (Boaz’ choice of words suggests he is not a numismatist.)

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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