Banks in Zimbabwe have urged the public to deposit money in their accounts, so that soiled, torn and defaced dollar bills can be exchanged for clean, new notes, a state daily reported Wednesday.
"Old notes continue to be in circulation because people are not banking money so that old notes can be repatriated and new ones are brought into circulation," Bankers Association of Zimbabwe chairman John Mushayavanhu said, according to The Herald newspaper.
"The notes can be exchanged free of charge."
The association's call came following public complaints that some shops, buses and cell phone airtime vendors were refusing to accept torn or defaced US bills.
Zimbabwe allowed trade in US dollars in 2009, after abandoning its own currency which was left worthless after years of hyperinflation.
Lower value notes are easily torn and defaced because they pass through many hands, but rarely pass through banks, which can replace old notes with new ones.
The Reserve Bank estimates that $2.5 billion (1.8 billion euros) is in circulation in Zimbabwe, most of it in the informal market because the public lost faith in banks during the economic crisis.
For years banks suffered a chronic liquidity crisis, leaving them unable to provide cash to people seeking to make withdrawals.
Hyperinflation also made banking counter-productive, because the value of money would erode dramatically between the time of deposit and the withdrawal.
Last week police warned the public about conmen who were using fake US dollar notes to buy goods in rural areas and along highways and getting change in genuine notes.