Do You Cut Currency in Half? They Do in Part of Canada

Posted by Allison on 28 August 2015, 20:03

Imagine walking into a shop with, say, a £20 note. You pay for something costing around £7 and the cashier gives you a few coins in change. Then, the cashier tears up your £20 note and returns half of it to you with a pleasant goodbye as they do so.

What would you do?

You’d be forgiven for thinking the cashier had taken leave of their senses. It wouldn’t happen in the UK – at least it hasn’t happened to date, not that we are aware of – but something similar is happening right now in Canada.

There is a region of Canada called Gaspe, and it is this region that has been making headlines in recent days. They are doing something completely new with the usual Canadian banknotes. They’re ripping them in half.

The new notes are called demis, meaning half. Apparently there aren’t just $20 bills showing up in this condition - $10 bills and $5 bills are also being torn in half.

No one knows who started it and no one knows why. However the practice has led to a local currency of sorts, since no one else is likely to accept half a bill in any other part of the country.

While the news has hit local headlines and made some traction online too, we doubt the idea would develop into something that is used all over the place. In fact, it looks as though the torn notes are only being used by a very small group of people in the Gaspe area. Not everyone knows about it – although that could change now the story has reached the internet. The question is, will other people start tearing Canadian dollars in half in Gaspe, and will the practice spread anywhere else as a result?

The idea seems to be that the local quirk means the money has to stay in Gaspe. It is a way of spending that money locally. Think about it: If someone handed you half a $10 bill and you knew you couldn’t use that anywhere but in Gaspe, you’d use it locally wouldn’t you? This is obviously the idea, but of course you could ask for regular money to be handed back to you instead of half-notes.

It’s an unusual story, and we wonder what the reaction will be as people from all over the world read about it. Maybe other local versions of a particular currency will start popping up. It isn’t the first time we have heard about local currencies being used, but it’s the first time the national currency has been used in this way. We doubt other countries will go for something similar, but you never know what you might read about next.