New-series Hong Kong banknotes to get most advanced security available
Hong Kong Monetary Authority sets timeline of two to three years for design process and to acquire the most advanced features available
Hong Kong's banknotes will be updated in two to three years, using the most advanced security features available, Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam said yesterday.
Chan unveiled the plan while leading a media tour of tightly guarded Hong Kong Note Printing in Tai Po, where all the banknotes used in the city and in Macau are printed.
"We have just started to prepare for the launch of a new series of banknote," Chan said at the printing plant. "We expect the whole preparation process may need two to three years as we need time to search for and buy the most advanced security features for the banknotes, while the three note-issuing banks would also need time for their designers to do the design."
The Hong Kong government issues the city's HK$10 banknotes and allows the three note-issuing banks - HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of China (Hong Kong) - to appoint their own designers for banknotes denominated from HK$20 to HK$1,000.
The last time Hong Kong issued banknotes with new designs was in 2010. The eight advanced security features in those notes had discouraged counterfeiting, Chan said. There was now less than one fake note for every 1 million banknotes circulating in the city, he said, compared with eight in every 1 million in 2005.
The previous series, released in 2003, had less advanced security features, leading to the emergence of counterfeit HK$1,000 banknotes in the past two years. Chan said the problem had been solved, with more than 90 million of the 2003 series of HK$1,000 banknotes having been destroyed after being retrieved by banks. Ninety per cent of the HK$1,000 banknotes currently in circulation were of the more secure 2010 design.
"The security features of the 2010 design banknotes are still advanced," Chan said. "But then, it is important for us to update our banknote series from time to time to introduce newer security features.
"We want the new design to have high security features that can also be easily understood. We want the printing cost to be low as well," he said, adding that it cost about 60 cents to print each banknote.
Chan also said that despite the popularity of electronic payment methods such as credit and Octopus cards, demand for banknotes remained strong in Hong Kong. "In 2000, we only had HK$100 billion worth of banknotes in circulation, now we have HK$340 billion in circulation," he said. "The growth rate is more than 10 per cent each year."
The Hong Kong government, via the Exchange Fund, owns 55 per cent of the banknote printing company, while the three note-issuing banks each own 10 per cent and China Banknote Printing and Minting Corp owns 15 per cent. The 7,600-square-metre plant has 110 staff and prints 1.4 million banknotes every day.