HUNDRED-LEV NOTES SOLD LIKE BEANS
The new banknote of BGN100 face value grew unexpectedly popular in its very first week of circulation. According to officials of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB), since the banknote was launched on December 8, 2003, the central bank has been supplying the credit institutions with ten bags of BGN100 banknotes a day on the average (each bag containing 10,000 banknotes). It means that bank branches receive BGN10MN in these new banknotes every day and almost immediately give them to customers.For the ten working days from December 8 until Christmas, BULBANK received from BNB hundred-lev notes totaling BGN20MN. There is demand for the new banknotes. People buy them for curiousity, company collectors - for convenience, an official of BULBANK's head-office told the BANKER weekly.United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) received BGN2MN worth new banknotes and according to the credit institution's CEO, Stiliyan Vutev, most of the money is already in customers' pockets. The major part of the banknotes was taken by exchange bureaux and financial houses which hope to register considerable currency trading during the holidays, Mr. Vutev added.Biochim received 20,000 notes of BGN100 face value. Until December 17, its pay-desk officers have paid 9,000 of them to customers. HEBROSBANK was given 2,000 banknotes and sold over 70% to customers by December 17. In some of the bank's subsidiaries customers are already making deposits and paying off loans with the new banknotes.Large banks are ready to supply the branches of smaller credit institutions. Of course, the service will be charged with a fee which is to be negotiated by the supplier and the payee.Large banks have easier access to the new banknotes, because they can afford making the so called standard banknote supply orders to BNB (consignments containing 10,000 banknotes of one and the same face value). BNB supplies them free of charge, while non-standard orders require a fee. The standard order for BGN100 banknotes has a total face value of BGN1MN, which is why only large banks can afford applying for one, two, or more bags of the new banknotes. Moreover, they have lots of customers and branches through which to sell the new banknotes fast and thus avoid paying for their safe-keeping. There are about 3 million BGN100 banknotes kept in the treasuries of BNB. If the market demand continues with the same speed that it registered in the first ten days of December, the Central Bank will have to print new banknotes next February. Officers in large Bulgarian banks claim that no forged banknotes have been found yet. According to Roumyan Tchobanov, BNB Chief Cashier, it will not be easy for the forgers to try to counterfeit the new banknote. The reason is that this is the highest face value in circulation in the country and payments with it usually require a change. This makes bank officials and traders look at the banknote carefully, so there is a greater risk for the fake money to be caught. The new BGN100 banknote has many signs that prove its authenticity. These signs can be noticed easily and it is difficult to forge them, the Chief Cashier said.The first counterfeit BGN100 banknotes can be expected to appear in the big ski-resorts during the winter holiday, bankers predict.