Banks across the city yesterday began distributing 50 million of the plastic HK$10 notes issued by former financial secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen.
Li Ming-kut, the first person in the queue outside HSBC's Yue Man Square branch in Kwun Tong, said he arrived at 5.30am.
'It is the first time Hong Kong has issued plastic notes. Many other countries have them already,' said the Kwun Tong resident, who carried away HK$5,000 in the plastic notes.
'The new note is very soft and thin,' said Mr Li, rubbing one of the polymer notes.
'I thought it would be quite hard. It is unlike usual plastic utensils. It is very light and smooth and the clear window is beautiful.'
Retired Chan Hoi-ping, 63, who waited from 6am, explained why he wanted one of the notes: 'It is the last batch of notes issued by Henry Tang. It is very special to collect both paper money and plastic bills issued by him.' He also found the new bills cleaner and easier to handle.
Newspaper vendor Mr Ko, who declined to give his full name, was excited when accepting a polymer note for the first time.
'It will be great when they issue plastic money in other denominations. Paper notes tear too easily,' he said.
Meanwhile, retired Li King-hung, 62, said the new bills were not sticky and easier to count.
'It will still be fine if I put it into a washing machine, but it is harder to fold than paper notes,' he said.
The design resembles the existing HK$10 note, except for its added security features. It has a window showing the numeral 10, a bauhinia flower and a ribbon in two shifting colours. The numeral 10 also appears in a watermark.
Over the next two years, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will evaluate the quality, security, durability and public acceptance of the new note.
Authority deputy chief executive Choi Yiu-kwan said it would then consider whether to extend the use of polymer to other denominations.