New $1,000 notes enter circulation

Business | Avery Chen 12 Dec 2018

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the three note-issuing banks, including Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), Bank of China (Hong Kong) (2388), and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation will issue the 2018 New Series HK$1,000 notes today.

The HK$500 notes will be available on January 23, 2019.

The HKMA said the other three denominations of HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 will enter circulation between mid-2019 and early 2020, with exact dates to be announced.

Together with the 2018 Series, all other banknotes currently in circulation will continue to be legal tender.

The first batches of HK$1,000 and HK$500 contain 90 and 230 million notes respectively. They account for 40 and 60 percent of current currency in circulation, Lydia Chan, head of currency and settlement at the HKMA said, adding that using new printing technology, the life cycle of banknotes will be extended from three to five years.

When asked why the HKMA issued big-denomination notes first, Colin Pou, executive director (financial infrastructure) of the HKMA, said these notes have a higher risk of counterfeit, and following the usual international practice, the HKMA will issue large denominations with latest security technology first to prevent fake money.

The new banknotes incorporate advanced security features. When the note is tilted under the light, a shimmering ring in the pattern on the top right corner of the banknotes will move correspondingly, as will the large and small rings on the metallic thread, while the denomination numeral hidden in the background at the bottom of the note can be seen as well.

When the note is held up to the light, people can see the enhanced watermark on the right side of the front of the banknote, with the theme of the bauhinia flower, including the flower, leaves, bud and denomination numeral. Also, the patterns on the front and back, which are of a single color under normal light, will appear as two fluorescent colors when exposed to ultraviolet light. The patterns on the front and back fit perfectly to form the denomination numeral when the note is held up to the light. In addition, the new banknotes use raised printing to give a strong embossed feel by touch.

Accessibility features such as Braille and tactile lines continue to be available in the new series for the visually impaired to differentiate the denominations.

In addition, the HKMA launched a mobile application called Hong Kong Banknotes Reader for the visually impaired. Developed by the Hong Kong Society for the Blind, people can use phone cameras to scan banknote patterns and identify denominations, but the app yet to be equipped with a function for identifying counterfeits.

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