Hong Kong's New Ten Dollar Note
The new ten dollar note has now gone into circulation and has been warmly welcomed by both the public and retailers. Further supplies of the new note will gradually be made available over the next few months with the aim of satisfying public demand.
At the end of June, the Financial Secretary took the opportunity at the launch of the Hong Kong Financial Sector Exhibition 2002 to announce the decision to issue a new $10 note. The decision was taken in response to the renewed public demand for a $10 note for day-to-day use and for the giving of lai-see at Lunar New Year. On the same afternoon I also gave a press conference to introduce the design, including many of the security features, of the $10 note. The new note is now in circulation, although it may be some time before you see it frequently in your change: it will be released only gradually, as supplies become available from the printer. The new note will circulate in addition to the $10 coin and the old $10 notes.
In view of the limited supply currently available, we had planned a very low-key release earlier this week. But news always travels quickly in Hong Kong, and it was only a matter of hours before large quantities of the note were snapped up by members of the public in bank branches throughout Hong Kong. The warm public response to the new note is gratifying, as is the ready acceptance of the note by retailers. We shall continue with our education campaign on the new note with the aim of ensuring that people are familiar with its appearance and security features.
This is, of course, not the first time that the Hong Kong Government has issued currency notes. A variety of them, of denominations of up to $1, were issued by the Government in the late 1940s and the 1950s, and at various earlier times in Hong Kong history. For the $10 note, we did examine the possibility of re-issuing those that have been issued in the past by the note-issuing banks. But only those issued by the Standard Chartered Bank would have been suitable for reissue - those of HSBC carried the old colonial design, and the Bank of China has never issued a $10 note. In any case, since the introduction of the $10 coin in 1994, the Government has been the issuer of Hong Kong currency of denominations up to and including $10. There is no intention for the Government to issue currency of denominations higher than that amount.
In terms of design, the new note represents a bold departure from what we see in the banknotes currently in circulation in Hong Kong. Its design is rather abstract, making impressionistic references to modern architecture as well as to elements of festive and cultural activities in Hong Kong. I am glad that, despite the odd criticism here and there, the initial response to the design has generally been a favourable one, particularly since a number of staff members of the HKMA put in a lot of effort into the preparation and introduction of this new note.
We understand from the designer and the printer of the note that, in bringing this new note into being, we may well have broken a couple of world records. The first is the speed of completion of the whole exercise. The second is the number and level of sophistication of the security features included in the note. We did not, of course, set out to break any records. There was considerable public demand for a new $10 note, and we considered it our duty as monetary authority to try to meet such a demand as expeditiously as we could manage.
But the effectiveness of the security features on our other currency in circulation is a different matter. Times have changed. The rapid advance of technology in recent years has made currencies more vulnerable to counterfeiting. To protect the integrity of the whole range of our currency, we therefore have to be ahead of the game in the application of new and reliable security features. Hence we initiated a design review of our full range of banknotes, which is near completion.
Given that our note printing plant is now preoccupied with preparations for the production of that new range of banknotes, and also with a view to broadening our knowledge in anti-counterfeiting technology, we chose to seek assistance from overseas in producing the $10 note. This enabled us to include quite a number of security features in the new note, some of them new to us.
Some have suggested that the abundance of security features may not be appropriate to the low denomination of the note and therefore the low risk of its being the object for counterfeiting. This is probably true. But we are taking advantage of the opportunity to seek to transfer some of the best technologies to Hong Kong and the printer has agreed to the transfer. This will be effected by our note printing plant in due course taking over the printing of the new $10 note. And, meanwhile, there can be nothing wrong with applying as large a range as possible of the best security features available to a new note, whatever its denomination might be.
12 September 2002
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