In the not-too-distant future, the efficiency of the national payments system will be enhanced by the introduction of the cheque imaging and truncation system, which will reduce the cheque clearing cycle. This was revealed by Bank of Botswana (Bob) Governor, Linah Mohohlo last week at the launch of the new family of coins in Gaborone.
She further mentioned that “both the Accountant General’s Office and the Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) will be connected to the BoB through the electronic Botswana Interbank Settlement System. This will greatly improve the speed, security and efficiency of government payment transactions, as well as those of the Botswana Unified Revenue Service.”
Mohohlo also revealed that, since the launch of the family of banknotes in 2009, currency in circulation has increased by 35 percent. She said, “This is attributable mainly to the P200 banknote, which is an indication of its popularity. In fact, by the end of 2013, the P200 banknote accounted for approximately 60 percent of all the paper money in circulation. Although banknotes and coin continue to be a major medium of exchange in Botswana, non-cash transactions, especially electronic transfers, have gained considerable ground. The result is that the average monthly cheque payments have declined by over 50 percent to about P3 billion in the five years to 2013.”
In the same period, Gazette Business understands that congestion at banking halls for cash withdrawal has been eased, due to the increasing number and usage of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Equally important, the value of average monthly ATM withdrawals has increased by about 50 percent to P1.3 billion.
With regards to the newly launched family of coins, the P5, P2, P1, 50 thebe, 25 thebe, 10 thebe and 5 thebe structure has been retained together with the family of banknotes.
Most of the features of the old coins have been retained, with the major exception being the new P1 coin, which now bears images of trees and birds behind the zebra symbol. These updated symbols showcase the country’s natural endowments and wildlife heritage, which are a source of the country’s national pride.
The size of each of the new coins is slightly larger compared to those currently in use. It has increased progressively from the lowest denomination (5 thebe) to the highest denomination (P5). The shapes of the coins have also been changed somewhat; this is particularly the case for the higher denominations, P1 and P2; they are now circular.
Another feature of the new family of coins is that the metal composition has been changed to improve quality and durability and to enhance security as it is difficult to counterfeit.
Speaking at the launch, President Ian Khama said the value of the currency depends on the sound, efficient and effective formulation and implementation of fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policies. “It is the tenets of these fundamental macroeconomic policies that help to ensure the maintenance of the purchasing power of the country’s currency, and sustain its value and convertibility in international money markets,” he explained.