Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit November 20, 2012 - 5:24 pm

New $20 polymer bank notes show up in Iqaluit

“It’s more durable. From a tearing prospective, it doesn’t tear as easy"

DAVID MURPHY
This new $20 bills will last ten years. And that’s good because the plastic bank notes cost nine cents more a piece to make, that is, 19 cents each instead of 10 cents each for the old ones. (HANDOUT IMAGE FROM THE BANK OF CANADA)
This new $20 bills will last ten years. And that’s good because the plastic bank notes cost nine cents more a piece to make, that is, 19 cents each instead of 10 cents each for the old ones. (HANDOUT IMAGE FROM THE BANK OF CANADA)

As Kathleen Gomes, branch manager for First Nations Bank in Iqaluit, holds up the new $20 polymer bill, she smiles.

“We’re satisfied with it. Granted, some people complain that once it’s folded, it stays folded. It has its pros and cons. But I like that it doesn’t tear so easily,” Gomes said.

It’s the first $20 bill to arrive at the First Nations Bank since the Bank of Canada released the new bill into circulation on Nov. 7.

And for Gomes, the new polymer bills are a welcome relief.

“It’s more durable. From a tearing prospective, it doesn’t tear as easy. From a sanitary point of view, I’d say it’s much cleaner,” Gomes said.

“And you try to pick out [the old bill] in an ATM machine in a jam with tweezers — it’s very tough. This [new bill] will stay solid so we can pull it right out of there,” she said.

The new bill features Queen Elizabeth II, and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on the other side. It also has a large transparent window and many watermarks on it, making it virtually impossible to counterfeit.

“It’s very, very hard to counterfeit. They’re very secure — I don’t think there’s a problem about counterfeiting in the North,” said Terry Dobbin of Iqaluit.

However, in March 2011 police arrested a man trying to pass fake money at the Northmart, an incident which later led police to a mini-money-making factory in the city.

Dobbin, who owns seven automated teller machines around Iqaluit, said he’s pleased with the bills, despite some hassle preparing his machines for the change-over.

“I’ve got to upgrade all my machines to the new polymer $20 bills because of the new textures and stuff,” Dobbin said.

That means going around to all his machines with his laptop and reprogramming them with a $300 system upgrade that will allow the dispenser to recognize the plastic bills.

But Dobbin said the North needs the new $20 bills more than ever.

“Most of the old $20 bills that circulate in the North, they stay within the North. So they’re in really rough shape,” Dobbin said.

These circulate from community to community, he said, often “they’re ready for the trash.”

“Every time I go to the bank and get money I have to go through them with a fine comb and straighten them out,” he said. “The [old bills] get jammed big time. They don’t go south. They’re in terrible, terrible shape.”

This isn’t the last change you should expect a change in your money, however.

New polymer $10 and $5 bills are coming into circulation by the end of 2013, and lighter 2012 toonies and loonies are already in circulation.

And don’t forget about the extinction of the penny — the Royal Canadian Mint is axing the penny as of Feb. 4, 2013.

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