Barbados to release first polymer notes in December
- Published: May 14, 2022, 8 AM
The Central Bank of Barbados announced on May 4 that a new series of bank notes, and the country’s first to be composed of polymer rather than paper, will be introduced on Dec. 5.
The bank’s statement on its website was a perfunctory 61 words in one paragraph. Below it, however, was a link to a 58-minute YouTube video in talk show format complete with moderator, audience, and representatives of the bank and the printer, De La Rue. Barbados Today offered a more traditional print presentation.
The new issues keep the same general themes as the current notes in the series that began in 2013. But they have been dramatically transformed to make them, as Gov. Cleviston Haynes said, “harder to replicate but easy to authenticate.” The old notes will continue to circulate.
The six notes are denominated $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. They are printed in the currently faddish vertical format for the first time and have enhanced, larger portraits on the faces and larger, more detailed pictures on the backs. For instance, on the $5 bill, legendary West Indian cricketer Sir Frank Worrell is now portrayed in a cricket uniform on the face, while the back also features a picture of him, at the batting crease (similar to the batter’s box in baseball), that shows a lot more of the 3Ws Oval cricket grounds than previously.
The vignette on the back of the $20 bill features the Parliament building from a different angle than before. As an added security device, faded renditions of the $20, $50 and $100 back pictures are reproduced as holograms at the bottom of those notes.
Other security features include a small broken trident at the top right of each note that reveals the denomination when held up against the light. Another broken trident lights up under ultraviolet light, along with highlighted lines from the National Anthem on the backs. An innovative feature is that when placed together in sequence with the $2, $5 and $10 bill on top and the $20, $50 and $100 bills below, a map of Barbados runs through the notes.
Even without the new notes, Barbados has a low incidence of counterfeiting. Just over 100 counterfeit notes were pulled from circulation in 2020, and in 2021 fewer than 60.
As much as it is touting its new physical currency, the central bank is preparing for the fact that technology will eventually replace at least some of the cash in circulation. Haynes said at the event that even with digital payments, cash will remain in use and that it still accounts for about 10% of Barbados’ GNP. “Indeed,” he said, “promoting the increased use of alternative forms of payments is a crucial element of our focus as an institution. We have challenged our financial institutions to join us on that journey, by ensuring the availability of cost-effective modalities of payment in the modern age.”
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