If one's own currency is sometimes not clearly distinguishable, how will it be with an unfamiliar one? The current Kenyan bills series has been in circulation for quite a long time and you can see that: they are very hard to distinguish.
Keeping all bills together leads to awkward situations at the cash register because I actually need to unpack my magnifying glass to recognize the different amounts. Especially when the shop is small and the light in it is bad. My solution: I store the bills differently: 50 Shilling bills are folded three times so that they give a small square and go together with the 20 and 10 Shilling coins in one trouser pocket. I sort out the smaller pieces of money right after I receive them. They all end up in a box at home and I hope to find a counting machine that can change the coins into bills for me. 100, 200 and 500 Shilling bills come folded once into the shirt pocket. And always a maximum of 500 Shillings in total. And if possible, I remember what amounts the total is made of.
That's more than enough for your daily needs. If I want to buy something bigger, the 1000 Shilling bills go folded once into the other trouser pocket. And if all this is not enough, I can pay almost anywhere by smartphone. Safaricom, the largest local network provider, has built a very simple and efficient electronic payment system. You only need the mobile number of the recipient or an account number. You type in the amount, confirm with your PIN and the transaction is done. As a result, virtually every store has posted its account number somewhere. Unfortunately, mostly behind the cash register, high up on the wall. So I have to ask someone to read me the number.
And recently, when I was sorting out the cons, I held a 40 Shilling coin in my hand. I was a bit surprised and inquired: It is a legal tender that was issued to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kenya's independence.
And there is more: The first bills of the new series have come out: The bills have different colours and the amounts are written in a big font. Thank you, Kenya!
This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".