Se­ri­ous pur­pose is be­hind those gar­ish new bank notes

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

New Zealand’s get­ting new bank notes and they look in­cred­i­bly gar­ish.

That shouldn’t be a sur­prise. There’s been a con­tin­u­ing a trend for cash to be­come less som­bre.

It’s tempt­ing to think that our ‘‘brighter’’ money (the Re­serve Bank’s word) con­tin­ues a trend that says some­thing pro­found about our re­la­tion­ship with money.

Per­haps notes that look more like play-money suit a so­ci­ety in which many treat it in a frivolous easy-come easy-go way and al­lows house prices to reach sci­ence fic­tion lev­els and has a pretty woe­ful sav­ings record.

But ac­tu­ally, the gar­ish­ness of the com­ing bank notes is all part of our na­tion’s de­fence sys­tem against coun­ter­feit­ing.

More gar­ish notes con­tain­ing dis­tinct, of­ten clash­ing colours, are harder for the bad guys to copy. Ditto notes with natty holo­grams and large trans­par­ent win­dows in them.

We’ll be get­ting new $5 and $10 notes around Oc­to­ber next year.

The fol­low­ing April we’ll get the $20, $50 and $100 and, judg­ing by the pic­tures re­leased by the Re­serve Bank, when the $100s ar­rive you might need to reach for a pair of dark glasses.

As a cul­tural item, money now says as much about the man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the over­seas mints where it is made as the coun­try where it cir­cu­lates. But our us­age of cash says more.

We re­main a so­ci­ety of peo­ple who re­ally do have a use for cash de­spite the at­tempts of the banks, Visa and Mastercard for us to be­come cash­less.

The value of cur­rency grew, the Re­serve Bank says, at 5.9 per cent in the year to June 30. Why do we love cash so? Cash can be a use­ful way of keep­ing a tight lid on spend­ing money for those on bud­gets.

I’ve met busi­ness­men whose wives al­low them a cou­ple of hun­dred dol­lars spend­ing money a week and they get it in cash.

There are some uses of cash that save us money, such as us­ing it in cabs to avoid hav­ing to pay elec­tronic trans­ac­tion fees.

About half of peo­ple have sig­nif­i­cant stores of emer­gency cash squir­relled away at home in case of emer­gen­cies.

Some save for things like Christ­mas and hol­i­days in cash.

Crim­i­nals – and some tradies – like it be­cause cash is anony­mous and cash trans­ac­tions leave no trail for au­thor­i­ties to follow.

Prospec­tive bankrupts can bury some in a tin some­where as they pre­pare to go bust.

And of course, we still like to stick it in cards at Christ­mas and for birthdays.

Many peo­ple would ac­tu­ally like to use more pa­per (or should I say poly­mer) money, rather than less.

Four years back, a quar­ter of us told the Re­serve Bank we’d like $1 and $2 notes as an al­ter­na­tive to pocket-bulging $1 and $2 coins. Many (nearly one in five) wanted $500 notes and one in 20 (pre­sum­ably the su­per-rich and drug deal­ers) wanted $1000 notes.

A few wanted $25 notes and a ran­dom scat­ter­ing thought $15 and $30 notes would be a good idea, though the cost of bring­ing in new notes is high so as in­fla­tion eats money’s value we tend to just print a higher pro­por­tion of the big notes.

There is a pro-coin bri­gade as well.

Three in 10 wanted $5 coins and an un­re­al­is­tic bunch of nos­tal­gists (one in 10 of those sur­veyed) wanted the re­turn of the one-cent coin.

The next step in the evolv­ing gar­ish­ness of cur­rency will be coins, I am cer­tain.

For my money, there’s lit­tle to beat the gar­ish­ness of the halfminted, half-printed coins that are now be­ing turned out as man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques im­prove. Now that does have the po­ten­tial to pro­duce a colour­ful pock­et­ful.

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