Banknotes for Demanding Conditions
The Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan (RMAB), Bhutan’s central bank, has reissued its 1 and 10 ngultrum banknotes using Hybrid, a paper/polymer substrate made by Louisenthal. Hybrid banknotes have a cotton core that gives the substrate the security benefits of traditional banknotes. This is surrounded by a polyester laminate that increases the durability of the banknote even under extreme climatic conditions.
The independent Kingdom of Bhutan is located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and is therefore subject to extreme climate conditions. The cold snowy regions of the high mountains are in stark contrast to the tropical regions in the south of the country. It is not only the country and its people that are directly affected by this climate, but also the banknotes in circulation. Bhutan’s 1 and 10 ngultrum banknotes in particular are subjected to high levels of wear and, up to now, had to be regularly replaced.
Hybrid: for countries with challenging climatic conditions
Countries with these kinds of demanding circulation conditions place particular challenges on their banknotes. They require a substrate that can remain in circulation longer than regular cotton banknotes despite the extreme conditions, and, at the same time, be highly secure. Hybrid 10 ngultrum was introduced in January 2013. The paper note had an average life span of six months, and the Hybrid note is anticipated to last two- to three-times longer than paper banknotes.
As far as banknote authentication by the general public goes, little has changed. The Hybrid notes not only feel like paper notes, but familiar security features, such as watermarks and security threads, can also be integrated. These characteristics also allow central banks to implement the changeover to Hybrid without major effort. As well as Bhutan, several other countries in Africa and the Americas already use Hybrid banknotes.
“Gross national happiness” in Bhutan
Statistically, Bhutan is one of the poorest nations on Earth, although its average income per capita is higher than in neighboring India. Jigme Singye Wangchuk, King of Bhutan since 2006 and pictured on the front of the 10 ngultrum banknote, has coined the term “gross national happiness” to describe the cultural objective and he formulated this as an important objective of Bhutan’s economic policy. In line with this, Buddhist symbols of happiness also adorn the new banknotes. Alongside Ecuador, Bhutan is one of the few countries that has not set out a growth-oriented economic model in its constitution.