Canada’s new series of polymer banknotes will cost banks and financial institutions nearly $100 million according to the Bank of Canada.
That price tag reflects the modifications that will need to be made to sorting and counting machines that are used across the country to handle money, says Julie Girard, spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada.
“In Canada, we have 500,000 machines that accept, dispense or sort bank notes,” Girard said, adding that includes about 75,000 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
The new bills are drastically different than the old cotton-paper notes that are still in circulation. The new series is made of polymer, a plastic substrate, and is equipped with multiple new security features such as a transparent window embedded with a metallic image, in an effort to curb counterfeiting.
Polymer is more durable – 2.5 times (seven years) longer than its cotton-paper counterpart – and weight approximately ten per cent less than the current bills.
In November, business leaders throughout the country criticized the new notes precisely because of the cost they would incur. Ted Bronsan, president of John Poulet Cheque Writer Service, said the new security features would pose some problems for small businesses.
“Probably 99 per cent of the market uses money counters with optics,” Brosnan explained to CTV.
However, Girard says the benefits of the new notes outweight the problems – and the costs – that these businesses will see, noting that this is a short-term problem with long term remunerations.
“We knew the transition was going to be a little more involved with polymer but the security and all the benefits were really important,” she said. “Polymer is what makes those benefits possible.”
The new $100 bill, the first in the polymer series, was released in November. The next bill in the new series to be released will be the $50 bill and will enter into circulation in March 2012. The other denominations in the series, the $20, $10 and $5 bills, will all be in circulation by the end of 2013.