a closeup of australian currencyIt is intriguing, to say the least, to consider just how many high-tech security features are hidden in the banknotes that pass through our hands and travel in our pockets on a daily basis. These security features are aimed at making banknotes more and more difficult to counterfeit, and many of them are so intricate in detail that they are not known by the average citizen.

So just what are these newer security features that are becoming a part of national currencies all over the world? Read on for an inside look at 4 of 8 major security features on paper currency today. Then check back in with the blog next week for details on 4 more high-tech security features.

Specialized material

Banknotes around the world are printed on specially developed materials in order to make them harder to counterfeit, not to mention more durable. Australian notes, for example, were the first banknotes printed on polymer, a special type of plastic, and since then Chilean pesos, Canadian dollars, Vietnamese dong, Israeli shequels, and Papua New Guinean kina have all followed suit. U.S. notes are printed on a cotton-based paper manufactured by Crane & Co. in Massachusetts (a supplier of paper products for many national currencies, in fact).

Watermark

A watermark tends to be one of the more obvious security features on a banknote. When a note with a watermark is held up to the light, a faint image will appear somewhere on the face of the note. This watermark is created with varying thicknesses of paper within the note and is effective because most counterfeiters do not manufacture their own paper. Many U.S. dollar notes feature a watermark of the U.S. president on the note’s obverse, but watermarks can also be found on the Indian rupee, the euro, the South African rand, the Japanese yen, the Iraqi dinar, the Tunisian dinar, and many other national currencies.

Clear window

Many modern banknotes feature a clear window with an image or the currency amount printed on it as an added security feature. This is especially true of national currencies with polymer-printed notes, where an area on the face of the banknote will be left blank to create a window. The printing on a note’s clear window is often holographic in nature, making this part of the banknote doubly difficult to counterfeit. Some examples of national currencies that use this security feature include the Singapore dollar, the Australian dollar, the Malaysian ringgit, the Indonesian rupiah, and the Mexican peso.

Microprinting

Microprinting involves the printing of very small text on a banknote, which is often so small that it would take a magnifying glass or even a microscope to begin to make out what the text reads. On the U.S. 100-dollar note, for example, the large numbers on the obverse contain miniscule writing that reads “USA 100,” along Benjamin Franklin’s collar is inscribed “United States of America,” and along the top edge of the golden quill reads “USA one hundred” repeatedly. Other national currencies that make use of microprinting include the English pound, the Indian rupee, the Singapore dollar, the Australian dollar, and the Japanese yen.

Check back to the blog next week for a deeper look at 4 more high-tech security features seen in currencies all over the world!