Steven Jackson, Business Reporter
The J$5,000 note remains the least popular bill in the system as cash machines don't dispense it, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) barely issues it and fraudsters hardly ever copy it.
The lack of love is fuelled by the consumer aversion to the bill and preference for the ubiquitous J$1,000 note.
The J$5,000 note, bearing the image of former Prime Minister Hugh Shearer, suits the movement of large sums of cash rather than smaller routine payments. For fraudsters copying the J$5,000 bill would logically offer the largest gains but the bill of choice remains the J$1,000 note based on a collection of illegal notes found over the years.
The BOJ in its latest annual report confirmed that "the J$1,000 and J$500 denominations continued to be targeted by counterfeiters".
Specifically in 2011, the J$1,000 denomination accounted for two-thirds of the counterfeit volumes detected, compared to some 83 per cent in 2010. While the J$500 represented over 17 per cent of the value detected in 2011, compared to about 8 per cent in 2010. The BOJ in response to Gleaner queries reasoned that counterfeiters avoid the J$5,000 bill due to its technology.
"The J$5,000 has high-level security features that are extremely difficult to replicate," stated the BOJ in response to queries discounting the view that counterfeiters avoid the bill as it is difficult to pass on to small businesses.
When issued three years ago, some small-business operators erected signs informing customers that they would not allow transactions with the note. It still occurs for instance, JUTC buses contain signage indicating that the 'Shearer' is too large for tender.
Last year, the BOJ issued some J$4.8 billion worth of the J$5,000 note which seems large but it represents only 2.8 per cent of new notes issued J$240 billion issued.
Compare that with the fact that three-quarters of all new issues are J$1,000 bills and most of the remainder J$500 bills.
The BOJ defended the small issues of J$5,000 notes indicating that it represented bank demand.
"The BOJ issues banknote denominations based on specific orders received from the commercial banks. When commercial banks place their order, they also specify the disaggregation per denomination," said the BOJ in response to Sunday Business queries.
At cash machines, customers on average withdraw J$5,400 but want sums at or below J$1,000, according to Edmundo Jenez, general manager of JETS Limited. JETS operates the MultiLink automated banking network.
"Our analysis suggests that the J$5,000 is presently too large a value relative to average customer demands at the ABM," Jenez said.
He said that ABM units have a fixed capacity of up to four trays of notes.
"ABM operators have carefully chosen their mix of notes that will be able to efficiently meet the needs of the general public," Jenez said, adding that the mix may vary by location and from town to town depending on customer need.
He said the major denominations used in ABM units are the J$100, J$500 and J$1,000 notes.
"While it is entirely possible to load ABM units with J$5,000 notes it is not yet practical in terms of customer service needs at the ABM," Jenez told Sunday Business.
"A J$2,000 note would much better fit that need, to allow for better customer service and optimal machine loading," he added.
The J$5,000 bill was issued in May 2009 and released that September.
There are nearly 25 times more J$1,000 notes than J$5,000 notes in circulation.