Kenya adjusts to accommodate new currencies

Just like Ghana in 1982, Nigeria in 1984 and India in 2016; Kenya have recently issued and also unveiled a new generation of currency notes. The East African country unveiled the new bank notes on Saturday (June 1, 2019); during the 56th Madaraka Day celebration held in Narok County. The new currency denominations include Sh50, Sh100, Sh200, Sh500 and Sh1,000 notes.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) governor Dr Patrick Njoroge; the old Sh50, Sh100, Sh200, Sh500 notes will gradually fade out however according to directives from President Uhuru through a gazette notice on Friday (31st May, 2019); all old Sh1,000 notes have been officially withdrawn from circulation and are no longer considered as legal tender. Holders of the old Sh1,000 notes have until 31st October 2019; to exchange their old notes for the new Sh1,000 notes.

The Exchange Process

Those who wish to exchange less than 5 million shillings can do that at their local banks. Also those who possess below 5 million shillings in cash and do not have bank accounts, will first need to contact the central bank who will direct them to a local bank after they have sufficiently provided identification, evidence and confirmation that the cash belongs to them. However, for amounts higher than 5 million whether cash or bank transactions, the central bank officials will have to be contacted to get their approval.

Reports says reasons for the withdrawal of the Sh1,000 which is Kenya’s highest value currency includes; cracking down embezzlement, money laundering, fighting corruption and also tackling a wave of counterfeit Sh1,000 notes in circulation. Another positive impact of the new notes, is that it will enhance liquidity in the financial sector; as it will encourage those hoarding monies due to disbelief in banking sector to return their money in circulation. Also looters of public funds who hide monies in safe houses will also have to bring them out.

CBK governor Mr Njoroge, is also in talks managers of foreign-exchange bureaus and money-remittance providers to put in place control measures for preventing illicit financial flows. Also banks also across the regions will be work together in ensuring that illegal money will not be exchanged in their countries.

The Design of Kenya’s new currencies

The new designed currencies at the front all bear the image of Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC). They also showcase Kenya’s rich wildlife with the images of the big 5 animals (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard) on them. At the back the Sh50 bear images symbolising green energy, Sh100 images symbolises agriculture; Sh200 notes bear images of social services, Sh500 images of tourism while Sh1,000 images displays governance.

The new Kenyan bank notes also have features (specific lines on the sides); that will hell visually impaired persons to easily identify the currencies.

Since the new currencies are smaller in size and have different features; banks in Kenya now have to reconfigure their automated teller machines (ATMs), acquire new cash counting machines and upgrade their software to accommodate them. According to Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), banks are currently working with CBK to ensure that the adjustments quickly carried out for a smooth transition.

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