Polymer Banknote

Polymer banknotes may be uncommon and unfamiliar, but they certainly are not unidentified.

  • Polymer banknotes are an invention used to represent an amount of currency, using flat, generally rectangular, printed notes made of polymer plastic, and they were introduced as a replacement for paper banknotes.
  • ‘Polymer banknotes’ are also known as ‘polymer money’, ‘plastic banknotes’ and ‘plastic money’; and they are particularly difficult to forge, especially with added security features.
  • Together, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian science research centre CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), headed by Australian chemist David Solomon, invented polymer banknotes, releasing the first batch in Australia in 1988, after twenty years of development, and a cost of 20 million Australian dollars.
  • The project to develop polymer banknotes was initiated after a large Australian forgery of newly released paper ones, spanning over 1966 to 1967, mounting to approximately 800,000 Australian dollars worth at the time.
  • The first successful polymer banknote was the Australian ten-dollar note released in 1988, which originally featured an indigenous Australian on one side, and European settlers and a ship on the other, and was issued to commemorate the bicentenary of European settlement in Australia; while a full set, the first in the world, of Australian notes was not released until 1996, after some further improvements were made.
Polymer Banknotes, Money, Australian, Assortment, Plastic, Real, Collection, Types
  • For security purposes, polymer banknotes will often include watermarks; embossing and micro printing among other printing methods; various threads, including magnetic, that are embedded in the note; transparent plastic windows containing an optical variable device (OVD) – an iridescent or holographic image; and other measures, many of which were once unique to polymer money.
  • Traditionally, polymer banknotes are made by inking a plastic film with white, usually leaving a small transparent shape, cutting the film into sheets and printing on them with a variety of inks using diverse range of techniques over multiple processes, and then are varnished and cut.
  • In 2014, only 22 countries were using polymer banknotes, while only a few countries had full sets in circulation, and these included Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Vietnam, Romania, Papua New Guinea and Brunei.
  • The practical advantages of a polymer banknote compared to a paper note include its resistance to water, dirt, burning, tearing and crumpling – general factors that improve note longevity.
  • One of the primary issues against introducing polymer banknotes into many countries is its cost for initial introduction, as well as higher production costs, which in 2011, for Canadian notes was 19 cents per banknote, slightly more than double the cost of paper notes.
How Plastic Money is Made, 2016, AZO Materials, http://www.azom.com/materials-video-details.aspx?VidID=430
Polymer Banknote, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymer_banknote
Robertson G, Funny money: How counterfeiting led to a major overhaul of Canada’s money, 2012, The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/currencies/funny-money-how-counterfeiting-led-to-a-major-overhaul-of-canadas-money/article554632/?page=all
Spurling T & Solomon D, Proceeds of Crime: How Polymer Banknotes were Invented, 2014, The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/proceeds-of-crime-how-polymer-banknotes-were-invented-34642
Weiczner J, Canada’s Plastic Money Is Stumping Counterfeiters, 2016, Fortune, http://fortune.com/2016/01/15/canadian-dollar-usd-counterfeit/


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