BOJ tackles resistance
THE Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) had to reach out to at least one merchant on Friday to provide additional information about the new polymer bank notes and assure them that it is legal tender, after the merchant refused to accept the currency for transactions.
On Thursday, just hours after the new polymer notes were launched, a consumer shared on social media platform Twitter that he had just visited Phil’s Hardware in St Andrew to use the new polymer notes but, “after a lengthy wait, was told by the cashier they were instructed not to take them”.
Another consumer, in reply, noted she faced the same situation at a supermarket, also in St Andrew, where she said the “cashier said they were told not to take the new money as their bank hasn’t authorised them to”.
The Jamaica Observer reached out to the central bank about the matter of the acceptance of the new polymer notes by merchants and was told the incident, at least for now, has so far been limited to the merchants.
“This issue was brought to the bank’s attention and is being addressed,” Chevanese Morais, division chief for banking and currency operations at the Bank of Jamaica, told Sunday Finance.
Additionally, Noel Greenland, executive director for communications at the BOJ, told Sunday Finance on Friday that he called the hardware about the matter and would visit them as part of efforts to get them to accept the notes to settle transactions. Sunday Finance tried to reach out to the hardware about the matter as well but was unsuccessful. It is not clear if the BOJ is aware of a similar incident at the supermarket where the new polymer notes were refused.
The development comes as hundreds of people converged on the banking hall at the BOJ on Thursday and Friday to get their hands on the new polymer notes, which are not widely available as yet at automated banking machines (ABM).
The BOJ issued $11.5 billion in new polymer notes on Thursday and will issue more on Tuesday. Up to Friday it was still tallying the volume and value of old notes that were redeemed in its banking hall over the first two days of issuance for the new polymer notes.
The National Commercial Bank (NCB) said it has retrofitted 43 of its 300 automated banking machines, so far, to distribute the notes. The VM Group said it has started to distribute the notes from its branches, while noting that its machines at the Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew and Duke Street, Kingston branches “are able to accommodate distribution of the new notes”.
“We will continue to retrofit ABMs at other branches and locations and will provide further advisories as the updates progress,” it added in its release on Friday.
Still, a Twitter user indicated that people are purchasing the new notes at a premium. “Buying a $1,000 note for $1,500 is some crazy work…,” one Twitter user noted on Thursday, indicating that those who want to get them could go to an ABM. The BOJ however said it “is not aware of this”, in response to Sunday Finance queries about the matter.
The central bank has been on an islandwide campaign, sensitising people about the new notes. It said it will step up its campaign to sensitise merchants as well to accept the notes which are to replace the old ones. Both the old and new notes will remain in circulation for the foreseeable future. The BOJ has stressed that the new polymer notes and the old paper notes of the same denomination are worth the same.