In March 2021, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issued its new $5 polymer banknote, completing the transition of the Eastern Caribbean dollar to De La Rue’s SAFEGUARD polymer that began in 2019. According to the ECCB, the reasons for the transition were threefold – the environment, cost, and security.

The banknotes are denominated in 5, 10, 20 50 and 100 dollars, and key to the ECCB’s decision to switch to polymer was the environment, according to its Governor, Timothy Antoine. The Caribbean is one of the lowest emitters of carbon dioxide in the world, he said, but one of the regions most impacted by global warming. The islands have a target of being net zero by 2022 and are well on the way to achieving this goal. The longer lifespan and lower environmental impact of polymer is part of this focus, as well as demonstrating moral authority and taking action on global warming.

The switch will also save on costs and allowed for the incorporation of advanced new security features.

The notes have been changed to a vertical orientation but remain the same size and dimensions – all uniform regardless of denomination. The colour scheme of the previous series has also been retained to aid public recognition and acceptance of the new notes, as have many of the design features, albeit that they have a much fresher and more modern appearance, helped by the portrait orientation.

They also incorporate a unique tactile emboss feature to aid recognition by the blind and visually impaired.