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Banknote security features increasingly high-tech

Categories : Cash generates security, Cash is trust
October 31, 2017
Tags : Banknote/Note, Banknotes, Cash, Security, Security features, Store of value, US
We rarely stop to think of it, but banknotes are indeed the most secure payment instrument in the world thanks to the high-tech security features that protect them from counterfeiters.
Communication Team / Equipo de Comunicación

Central banks are responsible for issuing a country’s legal tender, but most importantly, to maintain consumers’ trust in their currency by effectively protecting it against counterfeiters. To do so, issuing authorities rely on key players of security printing: from security substrate and elements providers, to chemists and physicians specialised in colour-shifting and optical illusion inks. As a result, an average banknote now contains about 20 different security elements making these valuable pieces of paper extremely difficult to imitate.

In the United States, the US dollar is printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The special paper made of cotton and linen fibres is provided by Crane Currency, which also supplies complex security features. Its motion technology, for instance, uses one million microscopic lenses to magnify images and create a movement effect in 3 dimensions. Crane’s innovation is present on more than 100 denominations worldwide, including the most recent $100 released in 2013. For this note, motion’s visual illusion appears on a blue security thread next to Benjamin Franklin’s head. When the note is tilted, the representation of the Liberty Bell changes into the numeral 100. In addition, the thread appears to glide up and down when the note is titled left and right, and vice-versa.

The motion thread is only one of many security features that appear on the latest $100 bill. Indeed, the US’s highest denomination also contains hidden elements that can be seen only under UV light, as well as colour-shifting inks and micro-lettering, among others. These sophisticated elements are used to protect banknotes against fraudsters, which usually fail to reproduce such technologies. Len Olijar – Director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing – explains that the latest banknotes also contain security features that are invisible to the human eye but which are machine-readable, enabling a swift and automated authentication process. He adds that banknote paper is a security feature in itself as its distinctive feel can be immediately recognized by consumers.

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