Having finally gone into circulation in September, there’s a good chance you’ve already got one of the Reserve Bank’s latest and great notes in your wallet or pocket book. These clean, crisp $5’s don’t just look awesome, they offer next-gen security. However, you won’t be playing Australian pokies with them anytime soon.
It was reported last month that the new $5 notes aren’t being accepted by the nation’s vast majority of vending machines and poker machines. That’s funny, because according tot he Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), machine manufacturers and businesses were given ample time to prepare for the transition – a whopping seven years worth.
New $5 Highly Secure, If You Can Use It
The RBA first announced the impending release of the enhanced notes back in April. Heads turned when the unique design was revealed, inscribed with a prominent, transparent strip running right down the middle, and a brow-raising vibrancy in the color scheme.
RBA Governor Glenn Stevens praised the ingenuity if the augmented currency. “Innovative new security features have been incorporated to help keep Australia’s banknotes secure from counterfeiting into the future,” he said.
“As can be seen in the images, these include a distinctive top-to-bottom window. Each banknote in the new series will depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird within a number of the elements,” explained Stevens. “On the $5 banknote, these are the Prickly Moses wattle and the Eastern Spinebill.”
But as these comments were being made, another issue was being weighed in the background. Would Australian pokies, vending machines, or even self-service checkouts at the local supermarket, recognize these creative new banknotes?
At that time, the RBA was confident that they would. After all, they’d been communicating with vending industries for years about the upcoming changes, and event took a full year to cue them in on the specifics of the new five dollar notes.
“As of September 2015, the Bank [RBA] has engaged with all companies that it is aware of as active in the Australian market… The outcomes from this engagement have been positive and the Bank is becoming increasingly confident that most machines will be able to process the new banknotes when the first denomination is issued,” read a statement in April.
No Pokies or Snacks for You!
Unfortunately, a month after the notes went into circulation, a multitude of media sources took to the streets with the new fivers, only to find they still aren’t being accepted.
Tests on Australia pokies failed across many major cities, and lunch breaks around the nation haven’t been the same since. The sugar rush of a cold Coke, the chocolate fix of a Snickers bar, even that bag of salty Lay’s taunts carriers of the upgrades notes.
Why Are Businesses So Slow To Fix It?
Ostensibly, businesses have dragged their feet on upgrading note-taking machines because there’s a high cost involved. But isn’t the cost of losing customers just as bad, if not worse?
If you’ve ever noticed (prior to the new installment) that $5 notes are the most worn, torn and dilapidated of them all, there’s a good reason for it. There’s been an overwhelming shift towards plastic payments, but you still can’t use a credit/debit card in a convenience store unless you’re purchasing $10+ worth of goods. Thus the $5 notes are the most frequently used in the country, ensuring we get our morning coffees, afternoon snacks and evening brews.
According to the RBA, upgrading the machines to take the new banknotes isn’t even mandatory. “Although the Reserve Bank encourages all businesses to upgrade their machines, it is, ultimately, a business decision,” read a statement.
The government bank also pointed out that there are approximately 200,000 Australian pokies, 250,000 soda/snack vending machines, 30,000 ATMS and 8,000 self-service checkouts that “process banknotes in one form or another”.
Gee, I can’t wait for the new $10 note to arrive next year!