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Vending Machines rejecting your RM1 note has nothing to do with Zeti Aziz’s signature

Recently, it was widely shared that vending machines are rejecting RM1 notes without Tan Sri Zeti Aziz’s signature. It originated from a tweet and it was shared by several social sites. Before you start rejecting banknotes with the former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor, Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim’s name on it, the reason why this is happening has nothing to do with the signature on the RM1 note.

The folks at Cilisos had reached out to several vendors of autopay machines which include Evoxen, Amano and Sigma Technology Sdn Bhd. From their findings, the “Note Acceptor”, which is the thing that accepts your cash, actually does not verify the signature on the banknote. Instead, it validates according to Bank Negara’s bills security requirements.

Generally, notes are identified based on four criteria: size, thickness, colours and magnetic pattern. These patterns are not visible to the human eye and you would need to use ultraviolet light to see it.

According to one of the vendors, the banknote testings are not conducted in Malaysia. They added that these “note acceptor” are usually produced in Canada, US and Japan. For vending machines, they are normally produced in Taiwan or China. As a result, the sample Ringgit Malaysia notes have to be submitted to these countries for testing.

The vendor shared that each time there’s a new circulation of new notes, especially RM1 and RM5, there could be some minor changes for the four criteria which could cause the note to be rejected. The new notes with the new signature were circulated since 2016 beginning with the first batch of RM50 banknotes.

When BNM issues new notes, the machine suppliers are responsible to perform another test run but it can cost the operator between RM750 to RM1,000 to perform an update. According to Cilisos, if a car park operator has five autopay machines, it would cost them RM5,000 to update. If an operator does not have an existing maintenance contract with the machine suppliers, they might not be willing to pay for this update.

Even if your notes are bearing the Zeti Aziz signature, it can still be rejected as well. There are several factors which can include crumpling, folding around the edges, dirt, torn notes or if it’s a fake note.

If you receive money with Muhammad Ibrahim’s signature, don’t panic. It’s not the note, but it’s the machine that’s yet to be updated.


Alexander Wong