The practice of counterfeiting notes is as old as the production of the notes themselves. With every change a government or institution made to its money, counterfeiters imitated it.
Before introducing paper money, coins were being counterfeit by mixing base metals with gold. Later, with the introduction of paper money/notes in China (1), which they made from mulberry wood, counterfeiters would try to get the same wood at the risk of being sentenced to death.
To protect against this forgery, Central banks improve their bank notes by bringing out new designs for their notes containing increasingly more security features.
Advanced anti-counterfeit features
A prime example of these innovative security features are the new Australian dollar notes. The introduction of new legal tender started with the $5 note. With this new note, the central bank of Australia introduced a new set of counterfeiting measures.
Some of these features are:
- Polymer material, instead of paper
- A (top-to-bottom) window
- Rolling color effects
- A 3D effect
- A transparent image
- “animated” image
- Reversing number
- Raised print
You can see these new features in the image of the new 50 note below. Take a good look and see if you can spot the various additional countermeasures. Of course, some of them can only be found by touching the new note or by holding it against a light.
Most banks around the world are in the process of implementing the same or similar features into their new notes.
However, like in the past, it’s likely not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’ this new legal tender will have well-made counterfeit counterparts.
New notes around the world
New front and back of the €50 note – Copyright European Central Bank
The Norwegian Krone got a new series of 100 and 200 Norwegian Krone on 30 May 2017. Unlike the Australian Dollar and Euro the old notes will become invalid on 30 May 2018, exactly 1 year after the introduction of the new series VIII.
New front and back of the 100 Krone note – Copyright Norges Bank
The Bank of England, or BoE for short, brought the new polymer £10 note, featuring Jane Austen, into circulation on 14 September 2017. Just like the Krone, the £10 note will not be accepted as legal tender anymore after a short transition period. However, for the Pound it will go faster. After 1 March 2018 it will not be possible to spend them in shops or restaurants. Your only option afterwards is exchanging them at a bank, building society or Post Office.
New front and back of the £10 note – Copyright Bank of England