Polymer bills more secure but counterfeiters unfazed

TORONTO [Peter Paul Media] — As part of the Conservative governments federal budget unveiled on March 4, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that Canada would begin using polymer bank notes in early 2011.

Canadian bank notes are currently printed on cotton paper and have a host of security features to prevent counterfeiting. The new notes will make Canadian currency harder to duplicate and more durable by up to three times as current paper notes.

“The polymer material will last longer than the cotton paper currently in use, resulting in lower overall production costs and reduced environmental impact,” said the Bank of Canada on its website.

“The new notes will incorporate innovative security features to significantly increase their protection against counterfeiting.”

The new polymer bills are made from Biaxially-Oriented Polypropylene [BOPP] and are longer lasting, harder to destroy, and waterproof, the website ElementsDatabase.com says. The bills will also be recyclable when they are taken out of circulation.

The new bills will not be easily folded, have an unnatural feel, and can be destroyed permanently if exposed to 100C heat, the website says.

Originally, polymer bills were first unveiled in Australia in 1988 by Note Printing Australia [NPA] — who delivered their one-billionth bank note on March 6, 1997, NPA said. NPA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia [RBA], their website says.

Countries such as New Zealand and Bermuda have fully converted to polymer bank notes — which are in circulation in over 22 countries.

On September 30, the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN], as part of a currency restructuring program, unveiled new polymers bills. Less than three months later, fake bills began to pop up on the currency market.

“We are doing something but we cannot disclose it,” said CBN spokesman Mohammed Abdullahi.

John Colditz, then head of the RBA’s Note Issue Department, told a 1997 currency conference that “Our counterfeiting statistics are now heading downwards at a rapid rate.”

“It is still a little early to be conclusive as, during the introduction of polymer notes, we had an upsurge in counterfeiting of most of the old series paper notes prior to their replacement.”

“Polymer notes appear to have stopped the ‘casual’ or crime of opportunity counterfeiter totally. As we have introduced the last denominations on polymer, the rate of counterfeiting, which is still based on the old paper notes, has been coming down dramatically,” he added.

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