PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) Septimus Blake said it could take until late this year for all automated banking machines (ABMs) to be fully converted for the new polymer banknotes.
Blake, however, stressed to the Jamaica Observer that he was giving a "preliminary guesstimate" rather than a definite timeline when he was asked when all ABMs will be fully configured for the new notes which the central bank said will be available from this month.
"Not yet. Banks are working through their configurations and roll-out plans. If I made a guess, which would be very preliminary â€” end September into October," Blake told Sunday Finance.
Again he emphasises that the indication is preliminary and only a guess before adding: "What's important is that JBA is focused on making the modifications to the infrastructure for the new note distribution."
Blake was responding to queries from Sunday Finance in the aftermath of a release from the JBA last week in which it indicated that it is actively collaborating with the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) to ensure a smooth transition for the upcoming introduction and circulation of the recently redesigned polymer banknotes for mid-June.
"The decision to update our currency with these advanced, security-enhanced polymer notes is an important move towards modernising our monetary system," Blake said in the release.
"Polymer notes are more durable, reducing reprinting costs, and saving valuable resources. They have advanced security features, such as embedded threads and holographic elements, making counterfeiting more challenging and ensuring currency integrity. The JBA is committed to supporting the BOJ to ensure a smooth transition and successful implementation," he added.
With the introduction of new polymer notes, adjustments to ABMs and other physical banking infrastructure are already underway. The JBA president also confirmed that retrofitting ABMs to accommodate the distribution of new notes is a standard procedure, which has been successfully executed in previous instances.
"All banking entities have been actively involved in the process to get the 800+ ABMs islandwide ready for this transition. We are united in our efforts and collectively working towards completing the upgrades," concluded Blake.
The JBA also prodded consumers to look out for advisories from their respective banks regarding the completion of upgrades to their ABM fleets and when the new notes will be available from their machines. It said each entity will advise customers when they are ready to facilitate dispensation of the new polymer banknotes and accept them for lodgements.
Blake also emphasised that the circulation of the new polymer notes will take place on a phased basis. This will ensure a seamless transition from the old notes to the new ones. In the interim, both the current notes and the new polymer notes will coexist and remain legal tender. Therefore, no individual or business will be disadvantaged if they are unable to access the new notes immediately.
The JBA added that it is dedicated to maintaining clear and open communication during this transition and will continue to provide updates to the public as the roll-out progresses.