22 April 2019
Officials from the note printing firm and HKMA show off the 2018 New Series HK$1,000 banknotes at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ
Officials from the note printing firm and HKMA show off the 2018 New Series HK$1,000 banknotes at a news conference on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

New HK$1,000 notes enter circulation; other bills to follow

New HK$1,000 banknotes bearing a fresh design and advanced security features entered circulation on Wednesday, with the city’s three note-issuing banks making them available to the public. 

According to an announcement Tuesday from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), 90 million of the new banknotes were released in the first batch, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The HK$1,000 bills will be followed up later with new banknotes of lower denominations. Newly-designed HK$500 bills will begin circulation from January 23 next year, while three other denominations — HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 — will be introduced sometime between mid-2019 and early 2020, according to the banking watchdog.

The HKMA had said in July this year that the newly designed series of bills come with five denominations, HK$20, HK$50, HK$100, HK$500 and HK$1,000. They all have the same thematic subject on the reversed side, which has not been seen before, and multiple advanced anti-counterfeit features.

Lydia Chan Yip Siu-ming, who heads the currency and settlement division of the HKMA’s financial infrastructure department, revealed on Tuesday that the three note-issuing banks have printed a total of 90 million new HK$1,000 notes for the first batch, accounting for 40 percent of the HK$1,000 notes currently in circulation.

As for the HK$500 notes, 230 million of the new bills will come into circulation next month, she said.

All banknotes currently in circulation continue to be legal tender and they will circulate along with the new banknotes.

It will normally take three years for the old bills to be naturally phased out, Chan said.

Although new bills of HK$100, HK$50 and HK$20 denominations will be issued only after several months, Chan said the amount of them issued last time in 2010 will be sufficient to meet public needs during the Lunar New Year holidays next year, which will fall in early February.

Hong Kong’s note-issuing banks are The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp (HSBC), Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), and Bank of China (Hong Kong).

Colin Pou Hak-wan, HKMA’s executive director for financial infrastructure, told reporters on Tuesday  that the newly issued bills are coated with transparent protective film and therefore they are expected to last, in general, one to two years longer than their existing counterparts, whose lifespan is normally between three and five years.

As to why the high-denomination notes are coming out first, Pou explained that it is because counterfeiters tend to target them, RTHK reported.

Given that “the risk on the higher denominated notes is higher, it is kind of a commonly accepted practice for issuance of new banknotes” to start off with “the higher-denominated notes”, the official said.

RTHK quoted an executive with the note printing firm as saying that the new feature of shifting rings in the top right-hand corner – which move when a note is tilted – is something no counterfeiter can ever copy.

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HKMA Executive Director (Financial Infrastructure) Colin Pou said high-denomination notes were given priority as they face greater counterfeiting risk. Photo: HKEJ

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