If you’re a Filipino residing in the Philippines, I do hope you know by now that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is retiring or “demonetizing” a set of Philippine peso bills starting 2016. If you know this already, then good for you. You can stop reading at this point and go back to whatever it was that you were doing before you stumbled in here.
But if this is the first time you’ve heard of this, good thing you’re here then. It’s no luck that you’re reading this post. It’s meant to be. Because this post will save you a lot of frustration, not to mention embarrassing situations, if January 1, 2016 rolls around and you are blissfully unaware that some of the bills in your wallet is no longer of any value.
Imagine this: you handing over your payment to the Starbucks barista only to be told that your money is no good. It’s basically just a piece of paper, because the bills you gave belong to the set that has been demonetized. That’s like the waiter returning your credit card because the card was denied after it was swiped. Embarrassing, right?
So here’s the deal:
In 1985, BSP released a set of peso bills they called the “New Design Series.” You can check them out here. This was the first set of printing and minting that BSP did after Martial Law was lifted in 1981.
Then in 2009, BSP did a massive design overhaul on the New Design Series mainly for the purpose of thwarting counterfeiters (those who produce fake money). So they re-designed the peso bills and amped up the security features. This set is called “New Generation Currency” which was released in 2010.
For a few years thereafter, both the New Design Series and New Generation Currency co-existed in marital bliss in monetary transactions.
But like most marriages and relationships, nothing lasts forever. BSP announced that they will roll out the demonetization of the old New Design Series. This means that by January 1, 2016, NDS will be forcibly retired from circulation (I say forcibly because the poor NDS really have no say in the matter). NGC will now be the sole currency we will be using in the Philippines.
You might realise by now that it can be quite confusing to identify which is the old money and which is the new when both currency sets are called New. (This really should be a lesson in branding for the money designers.) But don’t fret. All you need to do is check the serial numbers:
The NDS (old) bills bear serial numbers that are uniform in size and font as you can see in the P500 note at the top of the photo (encircled in pink). These are the notes that will no longer be used by Jan. 1, 2016. The NGC (new) is marked by serial numbers that are asymmetrical in size and font (increasing) as seen in the bill at the bottom of the photo. These are the banknotes that will be exclusively used as legal tender starting 2016.
Although the old banknotes (NDS) can no longer be used by 2016, you can have them exchanged for the new (NGC) ones at any bank in the country from January to December 2016. You have a year to do this, because starting January 1, 2017, the old bills will not only be of any value, you cannot have them exchanged anymore. They will be just pieces of paper. Valueless. Souvenir items.
BSP has been holding several large-scale info drive activities to disseminate this information to as many residents as possible all over the country. In Cebu, our office organised a forum between BSP officials, namely BSP-Cebu OIC Atty. Leonides Sumbi and BSP Cebu Information Officer Hazel Arante with the members of the Cebu Blogging Community (CBC) for a #iBLOGforDemonetization Bloggers Forum under the #iBLOGforSocialGood project between CBC and PIA-Cebu.
The bloggers forum is in addition to the usual mainstream media events we’ve been holding. So if you’re reading this, do help us spread the word even further by posting about this or sharing this post with others, even to foreigners who live or work here.
Why don’t you try checking your wallet now and see if you can identify the old or new bills by checking the serial numbers. Remember to have your old bills exchanged for new ones starting January 2016.