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US embassy now accepts new bank notes

Central Bank governor Dr Patrick Njoroge
Central Bank governor Dr Patrick Njoroge holding the new banknotes at a press conference on May 3, 2019 in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

The Nairobi US Embassy is now accepting both the new and the old currency for payment of services like Visa fees, reversing an earlier decision where it had asked Kenyans planning to make payment to use only the old currency.

In a tweet Tuesday, the Embassy barred Kenyans from making payments using the new generation currency, arguing it needs to put in place new procedures to accept the notes.

“The Government of Kenya has introduced new currency with plans for withdrawing all old currency from circulation by October 1, 2019. We are currently developing procedures to accept the new Kenyan shillings.

“Until these procedures are in place, consular applicants will only be able to pay for services using the previous Kenyan shillings. You may also continue to pay by credit card,” the embassy said on its Twitter handle Tuesday.

However, in a subsequent tweet Wednesday, the Embassy announced that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) had provided it with equipment upgrades and training necessary to accept the new currency.

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“After coordination with the Central Bank of Kenya, the U.S. Embassy has been provided the equipment upgrades and training necessary to accept the new Kenyan currency. We now accept the new currency as well as the legacy currency valid until October 1, 2019,” said the Embassy on its twitter handle Wednesday.

Kenya gradually started replacing the old currencies on June 1.

The older versions of smaller denominations are however in circulation alongside the new ones launched, but after October 1, the older 1,000 shilling note will be invalid.

Banks will have to reconfigure their ATMs (automated teller machines), acquire new cash counting machines and upgrade their software to accommodate the new currencies introduced to the market on Saturday.

The new notes are smaller and have different features prompting the need for ATM upgrades and new money counting machines found in teller booths to verify cash amounts and capture counterfeits.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) redesigned 1, 5, 10 and 20 shilling coins in December 2018 and has begun releasing the new 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 shilling notes in the second phase of the country’s transition to the new currency.

The introduction of new currencies are meant to tackle illicit financial flows, cash counterfeiting and nab tax cheats.

The CBK early unveiled the rules to guide the replacement of the Sh1,000 notes, which accounts for 83 percent of the Sh540 billion in circulation or Sh217 billion.

The 500 notes account for 5.9 percent, Sh200 (4.2 percent), Sh100 (4.8 per cent) and Sh50 (1.9 per cent).

Tanzania and Uganda last week stopped the use of the Kenyan currency in an effort to curb laundering of stolen money back into Kenya.

The Bank of Uganda advised banks to subject all flows to enhanced due diligence.

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