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Polymer Banknotes: Preferred Option over Paper Banknotes

Started by Bimat, September 13, 2011, 04:06:19 PM

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An increasing number of countries switching to polymer bank notes, will US and EU follow?

An increasing number of countries are switching to using polymer bank notes. Australia was the first country to develop and use polymer notes in general circulation, mainly to decrease the rising rate of counterfeit money. Since then, they have only gained in popularity and recognition for their many benefits over the traditional paper bank notes. Polymer banknotes were developed to improve currency durability and prevent counterfeiting through incorporated security features- such as optically variable devices that are extremely difficult to reproduce, durability and ability to resist wear and tear, cost-effectiveness in the long-term, increased environmental friendliness. One of the strongest security features of the polymer note is the see through window, which makes it hard to reproduce by using photocopiers or scanners. The raised ink, transparent text, metallic portraits or images and hidden numbers are some of the other security features of polymer currency which makes it very difficult not to mention costly to counterfeit. Further means of security features can also be added easily and inconspicuously. The material properties of polymer substrate as well as the protective coating finish means that the notes don't soil easily and absorb sweat, oil, water or other liquids like paper bills do, are less prone to staining or damage, less prone to tearing. Polymer notes last up to four times longer than paper notes, hence they save money in printing costs over a longer time period, thereby saving costs in the long-term. Polymer material has more benefit to the environment than paper notes. For one, polymer is less polluting, and the production process of the material is more energy-efficient. The other great environmental benefit of polymer over paper is how the polymer notes are recyclable when they are no longer needed for use. They are easier to machine process and are shreddable and recyclable at the end of their useful lives.

In 1988, after significant research and development by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australia produced the first polymer banknote made from biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP), and in 1996 became the first country to have a full set of circulating polymer banknotes of all denominations. In 2005, Bulgaria issued the world's first hybrid paper-polymer banknote. As of 2010, seven countries have converted fully to polymer banknotes: Australia, Bermuda, Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania and Vietnam. Other countries with notes printed on Guardian polymer in circulation include Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong (for a two year trial), Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Singapore, Solomon Island (no longer issued), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Samoa and Zambia. Countries and regions that have issued commemorative banknotes (which are not in circulation) on Guardian polymer include China, Taiwan, Kuwait, Northern Ireland and Singapore. In 1983, Costa Rica and Haiti issued the first Tyvek and the Isle of Man issued the first Bradvek polymer (or plastic) banknotes; these were printed by the American Banknote Company and developed by DuPont. Countries indicating plans to issue polymer banknotes include Nigeria and Canada.

Polymer banknotes are advantageous for a number of reasons, but they have their faults as well. When polymer notes come in contact with water or some other liquid, they tend to get stuck together, making them difficult to pull apart. Polymer notes are designed specifically to resist attempts at folding. The use of polymer is intended to increase the life of a bill, but without being able to fold it at all, those who use folding wallets or prefer to carry bills in their pocket will have a difficult time making do. When a polymer banknote is folded, the action creates a crease in the middle of the bill that is permanent.

As per Wikipedia, polymer banknotes were developed to increase the security of Australia's paper currency against counterfeiting. In 1967 forgeries of the Australian $10 note were found in circulation and the RBA was concerned about an increase in counterfeiting with the release of colour photocopiers that year. In 1968 the RBA started collaborations with the CSIRO and funds were made available in 1969 for the experimental production of distinctive papers. The insertion of an optically variable device (OVD) created from diffraction gratings in plastic as a security device inserted in banknotes was proposed in 1972. The first patent arising from the development of polymer banknotes was filed in 1973. In 1974 the technique of lamination was used to combine materials; the all-plastic laminate eventually chosen was a clear, BOPP laminate, in which OVDs could be inserted without needing to punch holes. The BOPP substrate is processed through the following steps:

• Opacifying - two layers of ink (usually white) are applied to each side of the note, except for an area(s) deliberately left clear for creating an OVD;
• Sheeting - the substrate is cut into sheets suitable for the printing press;
• Printing - traditional offset, intaglio and letterpress printing processes are used;
• Overcoating - notes are coated with a protective varnish.

Countries in the European Union that use the euro are Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland However, the European Central Bank stuck to paper when issuing euro notes for the first time in 2002. The US government estimates that less than 1/100 of 1% of U.S. paper currency in circulation is counterfeit. Considering recent advances in printing technology and the obviously vast incentive to counterfeit bills, that's a pretty small number. In part, this is because the U.S. Secret Service thoroughly investigates all reported counterfeiting cases, and because there are harsh criminal penalties for counterfeiting or passing fake bills. Perhaps more than anything, though, counterfeiting is difficult because of the bills' security features, which are hard to reproduce but easy to use to verify note authenticity. America has no plans to change to polymer notes. Its officials claim that the blend of paper they use gives one-dollar bills a 21-month life, compared with 15 months for low-value polymer bills. Changing infrastructure to manufacture and to process plastic money would be pricey. Overall, counterfeiting of US currency remains extremely low. This is due primarily to the combination of improvements in the notes' security features as mentioned above, aggressive law enforcement, and educational efforts to inform the public about how to verify their currency. According to statistics, the amount of counterfeit US currency worldwide is less than 1% of genuine US currency in circulation.

Source: Plastemart
It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.

Md. Shariful Islam

The 10 taka polymer bank note of Bangladesh gone out of market. Where we don't know. Have they made shopping polybag :P.



I like the Polymer notes having used them for many years here now. I never see a damaged or defaced note in circulation as they seem indestructible.

A thumbs up from the man in the street !  ;D
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.


When introducing polymer banknotes, you also need a system to dispose of them. Traditional incineration methods don't work on polymer, since they would cause heavy air pollution. That also means that for a transitional period, withdrawn notes must be separated into paper and polymer. This would be a significant cost item.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


Unfortunately, polymer banknotes can also be counterfeited. :(

'Pineapple' fakes on a upward spike

Eric Johnston, Philip Wen
September 16, 2011

THE humble ''pineapple'' has a soft spot among the country's counterfeiters.

The garish $50 note, despite a reputation for being tough to copy, is the favourite among counterfeiters, according to the Reserve Bank, which oversees the printing of notes.

There has been a big spike in counterfeiting in the past year, with about 16 out of every million banknotes in circulation found to be fake. This was about double the 10-year average, though the RBA said this has since fallen sharply after several arrests.

Even with the increased counterfeiting activity, Australia has a lower proportion of counterfeit notes in circulation compared with Russia, Canada and Britain - but more than Switzerland, Denmark and New Zealand.

The Reserve Bank points out that the overseas average for forgery is between 50 and 100 out of every million notes in circulation.

After switching from a paper base to polymer in the 1990s, Australian banknotes became harder to copy.
Over the past decade, almost 80 per cent of forgeries detected have been of a $50 note.

The most plausible explanation for the popularity of the $50 note among forgers was its relative high value and its wide use in Australia, accounting for 45 per cent of all notes on issue.

While the $100 note offers greater returns for shysters, the risk of detection are much higher given their lower circulation.

Source: SMH

Image: An Australian $50 banknote.

It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. -J. K. Rowling.


Always willing to trade.  See my profile for areas of interest.


The fifty dollar banknote shown is interesting in that it it is twelve years old - the majority do last well. The first two digits of the serial number give the year. Another security feature on all Australian notes is the denomination and serial number is repeated and only shows under black light, a sure test against counterfeiting.

Quote....those who use folding wallets or prefer to carry bills in their pocket will have a difficult time making do.

Experience of many years of using these notes proves this is a ridiculous statement.
Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.


Quote from: malj1 on November 18, 2011, 08:50:57 PM
Another security feature on all Australian notes is the denomination and serial number is repeated and only shows under black light, a sure test against counterfeiting.

Here is an attempt to photograph a $100 bill to show the security feature mentioned above.

Have a look at  my tokens and my banknotes.


Quote from: Md. Shariful Islam on September 13, 2011, 06:43:30 PM
The 10 taka polymer bank note of Bangladesh gone out of market. Where we don't know. Have they made shopping polybag :P.


I am a collector of polymer bank notes. I have one in my collection  :)  -


Which year issue is that?
Last 5 Taka and 10 Taka notes were printed in 2015.
Incidentally, 5 Taka coin is a metal note ( in the sense ) that it is issued as a liability of Bangladesh Bank and is different from 1 and 2 Taka coins.
There was a proposal to coinise 5 Taka ( formally ) and 10 Taka.
I am not sure if next minting order might do that and notes of these two denominations may be stopped.