THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) has recalibrated 2,425 automated teller machines (ATMs) across the country as of August to dispense polymer bank notes, the central bank said on Thursday.

“The recalibration of automated teller machines has begun across the Philippines so they can become polymer-ready. So far, there are more than 2,000 polymer-ready ATMs… that can release both 1000-Piso polymer banknotes and paper money,” the BSP said in a social media post.

“As part of its test circulation, the BSP targets to completely issue 500 million pieces of 1000-Piso polymer banknotes by 2023. The BSP continues to encourage banks to transform their cash processing machines into polymer-ready ATMs,” the central bank added.

The BSP is circulating 500 million pieces of P1,000 polymer banknotes in phases until June 2023.

The limited circulation test is meant to assess if the benefits reaped by other countries from using polymer bills will also be seen in the local setting.

According to the central bank, the new banknote is cleaner, and stronger than the current paper banknotes and can boost efforts against counterfeiting.

Earlier this month, the BSP said it will save as much as P2.4 billion in production costs in the ongoing shift to polymer from paper banknotes.

BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto E. Tangonan said estimates of potential savings from producing polymer banknotes stood at P1.26 billion to P2.4 billion based on actual 2021 bank withdrawals of new P1,000 banknotes from the central bank.

“The longer lifespan of polymer banknotes would translate into lower replacement costs, hence higher production cost savings,” Mr. Tangonan said, adding that polymer banknotes last 2.5 to four times longer than paper banknotes.

This is the second attempt of the government to introduce bills made of plastic, which it believes could address issues with the current abaca-based bills, such as their rapid deterioration. — K.B. Ta-asan