Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Millions of plastic HK$10 notes ready for the lucky lai see rush

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am

Tens of millions of the new plastic HK$10 banknotes will make their debut in lai see packets this Lunar New Year.

The Monetary Authority is issuing 50 million of the washable polymer notes - introduced last July - ahead of the festival, during which families favour brand-new notes to put in the red packets of lucky money.

'Members of the public will be able to get the new plastic banknotes at bank branches starting from next week,' said Lydia Yip Siu-ming, head of the support service division in the authority's strategy and risk department.

But the authority at the same time called on people to have concern for the environment and be willing to choose nearly new notes rather than the brand-new ones that are considered luckier.

'The HKMA strongly supports environmental protection,' authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong said. 'I encourage members of the public to contribute by using good-as-new notes for lai see.'

Efforts to persuade the public to accept used notes have been paying off, the authority says.

Last year 162 million of the notes of various dominations withdrawn from banks for lai see were used, accounting for about half the total. This compared with 53 million, or 21 per cent, the previous year. A total of 257 million banknotes - old and new - were issued for the Lunar New Year in 2006, and 322 million for last year.

When asked whether demand for HK$20 and HK$50 banknotes would be stronger this year because of the better economy, Ms Yip said: 'It all depends on the public demand, and I think we are well prepared.'

She said the new plastic HK$10 banknote had proved to be quite popular, 'as it is more durable and cleaner'. She also said no fake HK$10 plastic banknote had been spotted so far, as it was very costly to produce counterfeit plastic banknotes.