A month before the World Cup of soccer is set to take place in South Africa, the country’s central bank is recalling its old series of 200-rand banknotes citing a huge prevalence of counterfeits as the primary reason for its withdrawal.
“This year we have seen an increased number of counterfeit notes,” said Aboobaker Ismail, head of currency and protection of the Pretoria-based central bank. “We are extremely concerned about it but we are doing something.”
The bills being withdrawn are part of an old series printed before 2005, which is when a new series was introduced with added security features. The only distinguishing marks, however, are minor design differences.
Consumers have until May 31 to exchange the notes at commercial banks, though they can be exchanged at the Reserve Bank after that date.
With nearly 400,000 expected to visit South Africa in June for the world’s largest sporting event, the central bank is undergoing an extensive campaign to teach people about the difference between real and fake 200-rand notes.
Newspaper commercials, posters and brochures have all been printed as part
of the campaign.
Samantha Henkeman, spokeswoman for the South African Reserve Bank, says personal precaution will be a large part of the education campaign as well.
“The South African public is encouraged to re-familiarise themselves with the security features on South African banknotes and to examine them on receipt,” she says. “Do not hesitate or feel embarrassed about holding a banknote up to the light. Look, feel and tilt the banknotes to ascertain the security features.”
Though Ismali says they hope to not only withdraw the old series before June as well as “weed out” all counterfeits, some retailers are taking the extra precaution of not accepting any 200-rand note altogether.
The South African Gold Coin Exchange, which is licensed to sell the bullion discs stamped with the official 2010 World Cup logo, has also barred the use of all 200-rand notes at its stores countrywide from the end of this week.
South Africa will introduce new notes across all currency denominations with upgraded security and design features “in late 2012,” said Ismail. The denomination mix of 10-, 20-, 50-, 100- and 200-rand notes won’t change, he added.