From cotton paper to polymer: the EC dollar will make this transition by May/June this year beginning with new fifty dollar notes.

According to Rosbert Humphrey, Director (Ag.) of the Currency Management Department at the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), the move to polymer has a range of benefits the chief being that the EC dollar will be almost impossible to counterfeit.

Humphrey and his colleague Shermalon Kirby, Adviser of the Corporate Relations Department at the ECCB, visited St. Vincent and the Grenadines between January 10th and 11th, 2019 to meet with and engage target groups on this development.

While in SVG, the ECCB Representatives met with persons from Insurance Companies and Credit Unions, Commercial Banks, Government Revenue and Collection Agencies, Money Transfer Services and Supermarkets, Counterfeit Experts and the Media.

Following the release of the new polymer fifty dollar notes in May/June, new tens, twenties, and hundreds will be issued in August/September and new fives will follow in 2020. Humphrey explained that the reason for the time difference depends on the existing stock of notes in the vault. He said that the ECCB will not be withdrawing paper notes and putting polymer into circulation. Rather, as soon as a denomination is depleted, they will put polymer in circulation and both will co-circulate until the paper notes completely phase out, he explained.

Some major changes to the new EC polymer notes include a portrait orientation instead of the landscape orientation of the paper notes and the addition of modernized images and landmarks from the Eastern Caribbean. Additionally, a unique tactile feature, that is a combination of raised bumps, has been added to each of the new bank notes; a circle on the fives, an X on the tens, a rectangle on the twenties, a triangle on the fifties and a square on the hundreds. This is mainly to cater for the blind and visually impaired so they can now feel the unique feature on the note and know what their bank notes are. Additionally, the new fifties will now have a picture of the Pitons in St. Lucia and a picture of former ECCB Governor the late Sir K. Dwight Venner.

At the meeting with the media and counterfeit experts, Shermalon Kirby passed out samples of the new EC polymer notes for persons to examine. She said that the ECCB will roll out a major sensitization and awareness campaign across the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union ahead of the transition from cotton paper to polymer EC bank notes. l