Anytime there is a change in currency everyone looks for a smooth transition. Unfortunately, in the Philippines the latest change which involves switching from a bank note to a coin is anything but what might be hoped for.
At the center of the confusion is the 20-piso coin released in late 2019. Both the coin and the bank note remain as legal tender, but it has taken a formal announcement from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or Philippines National Bank to ensure the public of this.
In a late September tweet BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said, “The 20-piso bank note remains legal tender. Messages circulating that the 20-piso bank note will no longer be legal tender by year-end is false.”
According to a September 27 Manila Bulletin article, “In its official statement, the BSP said that the 20-piso NGC bank notes shall be gradually removed from circulation through natural attrition or until the 20-piso bank notes become unfit for recirculation.”
The BSP said, “To avoid disintegration or further deterioration while in transit, banks are advised to place mutilated currency in appropriate containers. The BSP encourages the cooperation of the banks and the public in its commitment to preserve the integrity of Philippine currency.”
According to the BSP, mutilated bank notes can be redeemed if their surviving surface area is no less than three-fifths or 60 percent of the original size of the bank note; a portion of either the facsimile signature of the president of the Philippines or the GSP governor remains; and the embedded security features are still present. The requirement for security devices to still be present is waived if “they are lost or damaged due to fire, water, chemical, or bitten by termites or rodents and the like.”
The central bank continued, “Bank notes whose security threads were ‘willfully removed’ will not be valid for redemption.”
The central bank instructed local banks to forward mutilated or questionable bank notes and coins to the BSP to determine their authenticity and consideration for possible redemption.
The coin meant to replace the 20-piso bank note is a ringed bimetal issue on which Manuel L. Quezon appears on the obverse, with the BSP logo, Malacañang Palace, and nilad plant on the reverse. The central bank said the new coin is both more cost efficient to produce and lasts longer in circulation than does its bank note counterpart. The BSP has been encouraging local banks to promote the distribution and re-circulation of the new coin.
During 2020 the Philippines upgraded its 50- to 500-piso bank notes by adding “short horizontal lines that may be touched and felt at the right side of the bank notes” to assist the sight impaired. A bank statement reads: “This is seen to assist the elderly and the visually impaired identify bank notes and distinguish one denomination from another.” The 50 piso has one pair of lines, the 100 has two pairs, the 200 has three pairs, the 500 has four pairs, and the 1,000-piso bank note has five pairs of lines. The 20-piso note was not upgraded.
These additional features were also meant to make it “more difficult to counterfeit…The security features…were strengthened by adding a roller bar effect on the value panels and color shifting in the Optically Variable Ink.” Nothing was said at that time of termites or rodents being a problem.
The Philippines has had some logistical and some embarrassment over its bank notes. In 2005 and again in 2019 bank notes were printed on which the name of an individual on the vignette was misspelled. About 78 million bank notes on which former President Gloria M. Arroyo’s name was misspelled as Arrovo were printed by French printer Oberthur Technologies (Francois Charles Oberthur Fiduciare), then circulated in 2005. The notes were never replaced.
The name of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is misspelled as Boa on the 2019 issue 1,000-piso bank notes.
Due to the coronavirus health crisis the Security Plant Complex in Quezon City reduced its workforce and outsourced 62.2 percent of its bank note production during 2020. The bank did not release the name of the firm to which some bank note printing had been outsourced. The BSP produced 73.8 percent of the nation’s coinage during 2020. Domestic production included the new 20-piso coin.