India’s Worthless Banknotes Pile Up To Three Times The Size of Mount Everest

Every action in this world has an equal reaction, although some consequences are impossible to predict. Ever since India made 23 billion banknotes virtually useless, the question becomes what to do with these growing piles of cash. For some people, this also creates a new business opportunity, as eBay is flooded with “old” rupee notes–perhaps not the most collectible item, but certainly a piece of history.

Stockpiling Worthless Banknotes Is Not An Option

People often say that dealing with an excess of banknotes is a first world problem. In the case of India’s central bank, this is an issue affecting a developing nation. Over 23 billion bank notes were deemed illegal last week, yet there is no plan for what will happen with these bills. The majority of these bills have been exchanged for new currency, but that doesn’t make the problem go away.

To put this into perspective, 23 billion banknotes would create a pile three times the size of  Mount Everest. Or to take things one step further, the pile could be used to reach the moon and back multiple times–a staggering amount of wealth that suddenly became useless in the blink of an eye. What a beautiful and dysfunctional world we live in!

Producing banknotes is not a cheap business, either. The Reserve Bank of India spends over US$400m a year on currency production. With all of these invalidated banknotes, they’ve effectively wasted a few billions’ worth of note printing.  This was, indeed, a bold move to end corruption, but it appears that getting rid of these notes is only creating problems, not solving them.

Current plans include destroying the useless banknotes and dumping them in landfills. A large chunk of notes will be turned into briquettes for industrial use. Others may find a new future as paperweights and other office equipment. But some bills will always elude the Reserve Bank of India, as they are showing up on eBay as collectible items.

Whether or not these useless rupee banknotes have any collector’s value, remains to be seen. Granted, most will all be destroyed, making them somewhat unique. They will, however,  merely represent a moment in history during which governments and banks made dubious decisions that affected the consumer, first and foremost.

Picking up these defunct banknotes on eBay is not overly expensive, though. Most listings offer them at twice their old face value, which is still very cheap for most people in the world. Additionally, the amount of banknotes remaining undeclared may be much larger than people think, reducing the value of these bills as a collector’s item.

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