CANADA & WORLD Ma­chine up­grades needed for new bills

Vend­ing and other ma­chines re­quire a soft­ware up­grade for each de­vice

StarMetro Toronto - - BIG OPINIONS - Colin Perkel

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of cash- han­dling ma­chines across the coun­try have had to be up­graded to han­dle Canada’s dis­tinc­tive new $10 bill, fea­tur­ing a ver­ti­cal por­trait of Nova Sco­tia civil rights ad­vo­cate Vi­ola Des­mond, while some oth­ers still await­ing changes are re­ject­ing the dis­tinc­tive ban­knotes.

En­sur­ing vend­ing and other ma­chines can read the new poly­mer note re­quires a soft­ware up­grade for each de­vice.

Spencer Bax­ter, owner of Value Vend­ing Ser­vices in Nova Sco­tia, said his 125 de­vices sim­ply won’t ac­cept the new bills. Up­grad­ing them all, which he has yet to get a chance to do, costs about $10 each ex­clud­ing driv­ing and labour time to get to the ma­chines at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions.

“It’s time and money,” Bax­ter said from Hal­i­fax. “Each time they change them, we need to up­grade.”

Since their in­tro­duc­tion in mid-novem­ber, the Bank of Canada has made 19.6 mil­lion of the new notes avail­able to fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and al­most 16.9 mil­lion of those are now con­sid­ered to be in cir­cu­la­tion. By con­trast, a to­tal of 158 mil­lion $10 notes were in cir­cu­la­tion at the end of Novem­ber, the cen­tral bank said.

“With about half a mil­lion cash- han­dling ma­chines of var­i­ous types in use across Canada, it stands to rea­son that they won’t all ac­cept this note from the day it be­gins to cir­cu­late,” said Re­becca Spence, a spokesper­son for the Bank of Canada. “In that case, the bank’s ad­vice is: If a $10 note fea­tur­ing Vi­ola Des­mond is not ac­cepted by a cash-han­dling ma­chine, try us­ing the pre­vi­ous reg­u­lar cir­cu­lat­ing note in­stead.”

Metrolinx, the Toronto area’s re­gional tran­sit agency, said it knew the new bills would be an is­sue for its Presto and other ma­chines used for pur­chas­ing rides on buses, sub­ways and com­muter trains.

Most de­vices have al­ready been re­pro­grammed, said Anne Marie Aikins, se­nior me­dia man­ager with the tran­sit agency. The up­grades, she said, are sim­ply the cost of do­ing busi­ness in an in­creas­ingly au­to­mated so­ci­ety.

“The beau­ti­ful $10 bill is ver­ti­cal in its im­age, which has thrown off vend­ing ma­chines,” she said.

“We have to make sure they’re all up­dated. It’s not a huge deal. It’s just a mat­ter of get­ting to them.”

The new bill, with its suite of se­cu­rity fea­tures, ap­pears to have pro­voked less of an out­cry than the in­tro­duc­tion in 2011 of the poly­mer notes that re­placed the old cot­ton­pa­per ban­knotes, or the lighter loonies and toonies pro­duced by the mint in 2012.

In those cases, some vend­ing-ma­chine op­er­a­tors com­plained they were ill pre­pared for the change and were forced to mol­lify un­happy cus­tomers and spend time and money fix­ing ma­chines that re­fused to rec­og­nize the new cur­rency.

The Bank of Canada said it had been work­ing with fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions and equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers to min­i­mize the im­pact of the new $10 bill on the cash-han­dling in­dus­try.

The note, the bank said, keeps the ma­chine-read­able fea­tures of Canada’s other poly­mer notes and is printed on the same ma­te­rial.

The bank also said it pro­vided test notes in ad­vance to equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers to help en­sure ma­chine readi­ness.

In ad­di­tion, with the grad­ual roll-out, rel­a­tively few of the bills have so far made their way into pub­lic wal­lets and purses and then into ma­chines. That has helped cre­ate breath­ing room for own­ers and op­er­a­tors to re­pro­gram their de­vices.

“Peo­ple, like me, I got my first one and I’m keep­ing it,” said Aikins. “By the time (the bill) gets broadly into cir­cu­la­tion, the fix will be in.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A sam­ple of the new $10 Cana­dian bill, fea­tur­ing civil rights icon Vi­ola Des­mond, is seen in this undated hand­out im­age from the Bank of Canada.

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