20 March 2000
The $50 note is the final denomination to be released in polymer by the Reserve Bank. The first polymer bank note to be released in New Zealand was the $20 note in May 1999, followed by $100 notes last July and $5 and $10 notes last October.
Reserve Bank Currency Department Chief Manager Brian Lang said today: "The change to polymer has been overwhelmingly positive, for the public and for the Reserve Bank.
"It has been very pleasing to see that counterfeits in those denominations that are now polymer have reduced significantly. For example, from last August to this February, when most $20 notes in circulation were polymer, only ten counterfeits of $20 notes were picked up. In the same period the year before, when all $20 notes were paper, we discovered 142 counterfeits. To date, we have only detected one attempt to counterfeit a polymer note, and that was on paper.
"It is clear that criminals have switched their attention to the last remaining paper note in circulation - the $50 note. From last August to this February, the Reserve Bank picked up 388 forged paper $50 notes, compared with only six in the same period the year before. This recent rash of forged $50 notes is obviously due to counterfeiters wanting to get rid of their stocks before the polymer notes arrive. The enhanced security features of polymer make it very hard for counterfeiters to make a living. I am sure that people who have been ripped off by these fraudsters will appreciate that.
"We are also very pleased by the way polymer notes are standing up to wear and tear. Only about one per cent of $20 polymer notes - the most used bank notes - are so tatty that they need to be destroyed when they return to the Reserve Bank, compared to more than five per cent of paper $20 notes," Mr Lang concluded.
There is a brochure available free from the Reserve Bank, entitled The New Polymer Bank Notes, which explains the security features of polymer notes. Copies can be obtained from the Reserve Bank by telephoning (04) 471 3660 or from the Bank's website at www.rbnz.govt.nz.
For further information contact:
Phone 04 471 3767, pager 026 103 787
The new polymer $50 bank note