Hong Kong is considering the use of plastic currency instead of paper, after a study concluded that polymer bank notes could be more secure and durable.
Hong Kong, which prints its own money and sets its own currency policy even though it is part of China, is considering starting with its HK$10 (US$1.28) note this year, the South China Morning Post reported.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, which is nearing completion of a two-year study on plastic money, declined to comment specifically, but confirmed it has been examining other technologies.
``The HKMA has been looking into different options and technologies (including different substrate) for note issuance, as part of its function to improve the security and cost effectiveness of legal tender notes,'' it said in a statement.
``The HKMA will keep the public fully informed of relevant developments within the next few months.''
Government sources told the newspaper polymer bank notes last four times as long as paper ones, are more hygienic and can be recycled into plastic products like compost bins and plumbing fittings.
Hong Kong officials also said polymer notes tend to be harder to counterfeit: Romania reportedly saw counterfeiting drop 98 percent since that country started introducing plastic notes in mid-2005, using technology from Australia, according to Australian press reports.
Australia was one of the first countries to adopt polymer-substrate currency, in 1988. The country used biaxially oriented polypropylene.
The Morning Post also reported that Hong Kong is considering the use of plastic bills when it issues special currency later this year to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the territory's handover from the United Kingdom to China.
The Hong Kong study did conclude that plastic bills have some disadvantages, though, such as being more difficult to fold and sticking to consumers' hands in the humid South China weather. As well, plastic notes are more expensive to manufacture, the newspaper said.
Hong Kong would join at least 20 other countries around the world using plastic in their currencies, including Brazil, China, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore.