Wanda Robson’s big sister Viola Desmond, the civil rights pioneer and businesswoman, is the new face of the $10 bill. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Cash-handling machines being upgraded to handle new $10 Viola Desmond bills

Ensuring vending and other machines can read the new polymer note requires a software upgrade for each device

Hundreds of thousands of cash-handling machines across the country have had to be upgraded to handle Canada’s distinctive new $10 bill, featuring a vertical portrait of Nova Scotia civil rights advocate Viola Desmond, while some others still awaiting changes are rejecting the distinctive banknotes.

Ensuring vending and other machines can read the new polymer note requires a software upgrade for each device.

Spencer Baxter, owner of Value Vending Services in Nova Scotia, said his 125 devices simply won’t accept the new bills. Upgrading them all, which he has yet to get a chance to do, costs about $10 each excluding driving and labour time to get to the machines at various locations.

“It’s time and money,” Baxter said from Halifax. “Each time they change them, we need to upgrade.”

READ MORE: New vertical $10 bill coming into circulation November 19

Since their introduction in mid-November, the Bank of Canada has made 19.6 million of the new notes available to financial institutions and almost 16.9 million of those are now considered to be in circulation. By contrast, a total of 158 million $10 notes were in circulation at the end of November, the central bank said.

“With about half a million cash-handling machines of various types in use across Canada, it stands to reason that they won’t all accept this note from the day it begins to circulate,” said Rebecca Spence, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada. “In that case, the bank’s advice is: If a $10 note featuring Viola Desmond is not accepted by a cash-handling machine, try using the previous regular circulating note instead.”

Metrolinx, the Toronto area’s regional transit agency, said it knew the new bills would be an issue for its Presto and other machines used for purchasing rides on buses, subways and commuter trains.

Most devices have already been reprogrammed, said Anne Marie Aikins, senior media manager with the transit agency. The upgrades, she said, are simply the cost of doing business in an increasingly automated society.

“The beautiful $10 bill is vertical in its image, which has thrown off vending machines,” she said. “We have to make sure they’re all updated. It’s not a huge deal. It’s just a matter of getting to them.”

The new bill, with its suite of security features, appears to have provoked less of an outcry than the introduction in 2011 of the polymer notes that replaced the old cotton-paper banknotes, or the lighter loonies and toonies produced by the mint in 2012. In those cases, some vending-machine operators complained they were ill prepared for the change and were forced to mollify unhappy customers and spend time and money fixing machines that refused to recognize the new currency.

The Bank of Canada said it had been working with financial institutions and equipment manufacturers to minimize the impact of the new $10 bill on the cash-handling industry. The note, the bank said, keeps the machine-readable features of Canada’s other polymer notes and is printed on the same material.

The bank also said it provided test notes in advance to equipment manufacturers to help ensure machine readiness.

In addition, with the gradual roll-out, relatively few of the bills have so far made their way into public wallets and purses and then into machines. That has helped create breathing room for owners and operators to reprogram their devices.

“People, like me, I got my first one and I’m keeping it,” said Aikins. “By the time (the bill) gets broadly into circulation, the fix will be in.”

Chris Stegehuis, president of the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association, said the introduction of the Viola Desmond bill appears to have gone more smoothly.

“There was new software required for our bill validators, as is expected with any coinage or bill change,” Stegehuis said. ”No problem with it at all.”

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Beaver Valley Scouts awarded for hard work

1st BV Scouts held their awards ceremony on Monday

Jason Bay enters Baseball Hall of Fame

Trail native Jason Bay will be an official hall-of-famer this weekend

Early Rossland townsite built on top of mining claims

Place Names: Rossland neighbourhoods, Part 1

Trail celebrates Rainbow Crosswalk tonight

Event goes 6 p.m. by the Trail Riverfront Centre, community invited

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read