Philippine Peso Coins and Banknotes

Philippine Coins and Banknotes

Measuring the weight of a banknote

I've been pondering what it would be like to pay 1 billion pesos in cash in the form of banknotes. How heavy is 1 billion Philippine pesos? Can I simply carry this around in a briefcase or will I need a wheelbarrow or maybe a forklift?

First, let's find out how heavy just one banknote is. I had a new uncirculated 50 peso bill in my bag so I folded it and weighed it on an analytical balance at school.

That's 0.9265 grams for a crisp banknote. When I tried a worn out 50 peso bill, it registered heavier at 1.0643 grams. That's understandable since a worn out banknote has more dirt and other foreign material on it. It also absorbs moisture more easily.

Then a friend lent me his uncirculated 500 peso bill so we both checked to see if a different denomination will weight differently.

It turns out the 500-peso banknote, at 0.9672 grams, is heavier than the 50-peso banknote by 0.0407 grams. Since the two crisp bills are exactly the same size, we can infer that the extra weight on the 500 peso banknote is due to the metallic windowed security thread which surely adds up to its weight. The 50 peso bill doesn't have this. Additionally, the 500-peso bill also has more ink printed on it given its more intricate design compared to the 50-peso bill.

So now we know the weight of a banknote will depend on its denomination and whether it is new or worn out. But for the sake of convenience, since a new banknote weighs just under 1 g and an old one just over 1 g, it is very safe to assume that a piece of banknote weighs 1 gram.

Now, how heavy is 1 billion pesos?

If 1 banknote weighs 1 gram, a standard bundle of 100 one thousand peso bills (100,000 PHP) will weigh 100 grams. A million will then be 1 kilogram - easily fits in your bag! But a billion? That will be 1,000 kilograms or one metric ton of 1000-peso bills! That's equivalent to the weight of 20 sacks of rice! You will need a forklift for that.

Lastly, consider that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) admits there is currently a shortage of 1000-peso bills, so your 1 billion pesos in cash will most likely be composed of 500-peso bills and weigh 2 metric tons.

Next time, we will imagine together how this 1 billion pesos in cash would look like. Or maybe a trillion?