Monopoly money? / New plastic 20-shekel bills, two-shekel coins coming soon
Twenty-shekel bills will soon be printed on long-lasting plastic to reduce the wear and tear on the heavily used banknote. We will also see a new two-shekel coin soon, by the end of 2007, the Bank of Israel says.
Today, 96 percent of all cash in circulation is made up of paper bills, according to the annual report released yesterday by the central bank's currency department.
According to the report, the public held NIS 25.5 billion in cash in 2006, up from NIS 24.4 billion in 2005. This was only a 4.6 percent increase, much smaller than the 10 percent average annual increases since 2001. The Bank of Israel says the 17.5 percent surge the previous year is responsible for the moderation in demand for cash.
The regular rise in cash in circulation stems from greater demand for cash transactions, as well as growth in both the population and economy. The use of ATM machines also continued to climb in 2006, and the banks introduced new machines to accept cash deposits automatically.
Of the 4 percent of cash in circulation in the form of coins, over half is 10-agorot pieces - mostly used as change on public transport. One-shekel coins make up 23 percent of coins, and five- and 10-shekel coins only 3 percent each.The bank has received approval from the cabinet to end circulation of five-agorot coins.
The new 20-shekel bill is made of a polypropylene polymer.