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There’s no need to look for the difference between the new and old hundred thousand-pound notes. They are one and the same.

A wave of speculation about the new hundred thousand-pound bills has oddly swept through the domestic market. These new and scarce blue banknotes, which have been on the market since January, have heightened the eagerness of some Lebanese to seek “good deals.” However, this is not the case.

A quick survey conducted by This Is Beirut revealed that some Lebanese believe the new LPB 100,000 banknotes will become a collector’s item in the future, possibly exceeding its nominal value. Therefore, they are unwilling to let go of them. Some assert that they have never had the chance to handle these banknotes, while others seem to confuse them with the LBP 1,000 ones.

66 Million Banknotes

There is no indication available on the Central Bank (BDL) website or in any published official communiqué or circular about the quantity of the new LBP 100,000 banknotes that have been circulating in the market.

In an interview with This Is Beirut, Mohammad Chamseddine, researcher and writer at Information International, estimated that around 66 million LBP 100,000 banknotes have been introduced into the market.

According to his calculation, he considers that there are no new or old LBP 100,000 banknotes, since the newly printed bills replace the old and damaged ones. If there are fewer Lebanese pounds in circulation, it is largely because economic agents no longer have as much need for them; transactions are conducted in dollars. Even the government pays its employees in cash, specifically in dollars, he adds.

Limited Edition

As for Nassib Ghobril, Director of Research at Byblos Bank, he echoes the same sentiment. He attributes the scarcity of the new LBP 100,000 banknotes to the BDL’s ongoing policy of reducing the circulation of Lebanese pounds since March 2023. “The LBP 100,000 banknotes are not raw materials (commodities) open to speculation,” he comments, surprised at the reaction of some Lebanese people. The new banknotes are available at certain ATMs or with currency exchange dealers. Whether old or new, banknotes are interchangeable, he notes.

For Ghobril, “There is no difference between old and new LBP 100,000 banknotes.”

On December 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024, two series of new 100,000 Lebanese pound banknotes were put into circulation.

The first batch was signed by the Central Bank’s acting governor Wassim Mansouri and former governor Riad Salameh, while the other batch carried the signature of Wassim Mansouri and the second vice-governor of the Central Bank, Bachir Yakzan. The new banknotes feature the same color and design as the existing LBP 100,000 ones, but not the same size: 135 × 66 mm, compared with 148 × 82 mm for the old, as noted.

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