South Africa has become the latest African country to release new banknotes and coins as it aims to fight counterfeiting and keep up with technology.
The new coin and note series have been four years in the making.
The notes, which went into circulation in May 2023, contain enhanced security features, including color-changing ink, to prevent counterfeiting.
- The notes retain the image of Nelson Mandela, the country’s first democratically elected president who died in 2013
- Africa’s ‘Big Five’ wild animals – rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard – are now depicted with their young on the banknotes
The notes are also rolling out in Namibia, Eswatini and Lesotho that are in a common monetary area with South Africa and where the Rand is considered legal tender alongside their own currencies, said Fundi Tshazibana, Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa (SARB).
#DidYouKnow that the SA Reserve Bank has upgraded the security features on our banknotes to protect them against counterfeiting? Counterfeiting diminishes the value of money and tarnishes the credibility of a currency, costing countries billions. The enhanced security features… pic.twitter.com/ufQJ0VmVNc
— SA Reserve Bank (@SAReserveBank) May 18, 2023
Existing banknotes and coins continue to remain legal tender and can be used alongside the upgraded banknotes, said the South Africa Reserve Bank.
In November 2022, Central Bank of Nigeria, for the first time in 19 years, unveiled re-designed notes to replace the previous N1,000, N500 and N200 notes. However the government came under pressure when it set a deadline of January 31 2023 for the termination of the old notes.
The bank later extended the deadline to February 2023 amid numerous complaints with Nigerians saying they could not access the new notes. Commercial banks were also said to lack the new notes to offer in exchange despite the Central Bank’s insistence that they had notes sitting in their vaults.
Eventually the country’s supreme court ruled that the old banknotes will remain as legal tender alongside the new Naira currency, at least until December 2023.
While the countries have employed different strategies to phase out their old money at the onset, both efforts are targeting counterfeiting whereby currency is produced without the legal sanction of the state or government.
In February 2023, the two countries were in the headlines after global watchdog, the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF), added them to its ‘grey list’ – a list composed of countries under special scrutiny for failing to implement standards to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
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