The Bank of Thailand plans to start issuing 20 baht polymer banknotes on March 24.

The Bank of Thailand plans to start issuing 20 baht polymer banknotes on March 24. The new banknotes are more durable than paper banknotes.

The Bank of Thailand will start issuing polymer 20 Baht banknotes on March 24, 2022. Pictured is an example of a polymer 20 Baht banknote.

The initiative to switch from paper to polymer aims to improve quality because the polymer material is cleaner and more durable.

As the 20 baht note is the most widely used denomination, it is more likely to wear out and get dirty than other denominations, the central bank said.

The advantage of polymer over paper is that it does not absorb moisture and dirt. This allows polymer banknotes to last much longer than paper banknotes. The durability of polymer banknotes will reduce the need to print new banknotes to replace long-term damaged ones, which is better for the environment, the central bank said.

The transition to polymer banknotes is also in line with the Bank of Thailand’s sustainability policy.

The polymer 20 baht note has the same design and features as the paper version.

Advanced anti-counterfeiting technologies are being used to ensure counterfeit polymer notes would be difficult to produce, the central bank said.

An additional security feature is a transparent window that can be seen from both sides. The lower transparent window changes the color from translucent yellow to red. For the visually impaired, another added feature is a small embossed numeral “20” in the top clear window that can be easily felt.

The new banknotes are expected to be issued on March 24 at branches of all banks. Paper 20 baht notes are legal tender. 20 baht notes account for more than 30% of banknotes in circulation, the highest proportion.

Given their popularity, 20-baht notes are used longer than other notes, said Pairote Balun, director of banknote strategy and general affairs at the central bank.

The central bank prints about 1.8 billion banknotes each year, including 600 million 20-baht notes. In 2021, the 20 baht notes in circulation amounted to 47 billion baht.

The life cycle of the new polymer note is expected to be five years, compared to 2 to 3 years for the paper version.

The central bank has advised companies that use vending machines to adjust the technology to handle the new polymer banknote, he said. Mr Pairote said the central bank expects 60-70% of these machines to be able to accept the new polymer note from March 24, gradually increasing to 90%.

“Despite advances in digital payments, some people still prefer to use banknotes, so we need to ensure their quality, security and cleanliness,” he said.