In introducing its new polymer bank notes, Canada is starting with
its highest denomination.
A polymer version of the $100 note, the highest denomination still
regularly circulating in Canada, will makes its debut in November,
Bank of Canada officials said March 10.
A polymer $50 note will make its debut in March 2012, with the
remaining denominations — $20, $10 and $5 notes — to be unveiled and
issued by the end of 2013, the bank said.
Adopting the polymer technology allows the notes to include more
security features, differing designs and other technological advances,
according to the Bank of Canada.
In addition, though initially more costly than cotton-paper notes,
polymer notes will last 250 percent longer and are better for the
environment, according to the bank.
“Canada’s new bank notes will have innovative security features
that are easy to verify,” said Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of
Canada, in a press release. “The leading-edge technology in these
notes will expand the frontiers of bank note security.”
The new $100 and $50 designs, as well as the security features,
are to be unveiled in the spring, according to the Bank of Canada.
The notes will stay the same size and dominant color scheme.
The decision to switch to polymer was first announced in March
2010, under a budget drafted by Canada Minister of Finance Jim
Flaherty (the budget also called for new alloys for the $1 and $2 coin).
The new polymer series of notes will replace the Canadian Journey
series notes that were introduced by denomination from 2001 to 2004.
The Canadian Journey notes introduced holographic stripes and
other key security features at a time when the Bank of Canada was
seeking to regain the upper hand against would-be counterfeiting; the
number of fake notes in circulation spiked in the middle part of the
decade, when as many as 450 notes per million were found to be fakes.
Now fewer than 50 notes are fake for every million notes in
circulation, according to the bank, in part because of the security
measures in the Canadian Journey series. Bank officials also attribute
success in reducing the number of counterfeit notes in circulation to
a concerted strategy to train retailers to recognize genuine notes, to
work with police and the courts to deter counterfeiting, and to
improve the quality of notes in circulation.
Security features used with the Journey series will be retained,
and the tactile features that help blind and partially sighted
individuals to recognize the denomination will last longer, because
polymer notes are more durable than cotton-paper versions, according
to the bank. Crane AB currently provides the cotton-paper blend for
The electronic reader supplied to blind users will recognize a
machine-readable feature on both ends of the new bank notes, according
to the bank. Now, the readers can read only an unidentified feature
that is located at the note’s left edge, when the face of the note
faces the viewer right-side up. The bank will not disclose the feature
for security concerns.
The increased durability will save “at least $200 million over the
life of the series, compared with the option of adding new security
features to paper-based notes,” according to the bank.
With increased durability, fewer notes will be required, so fewer
notes will be printed and transported.
The Bank of Canada is contracting with Note Printing Australia, a
subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to supply the polymer
material and license the use of security features.
An Australian company, Securency International, will provide the
substrate required for making the notes, which will be printed in
Canada by two private sector security printers, Canadian Bank Note
Company Ltd. and BA International Inc., both based in Ottawa.
The Bank of Canada is working closely with organizations that
handle bank notes in Canada, including the manufacturers of equipment
that processes bank notes, such as automated teller machines, note
sorters and vending or ticket machines. These entities have been
consulted during the development of the notes.
The switch to polymer notes requires adjustments to machinery, “as
is the case with the introduction of every new series,” according to
The increased quality of notes will make cash processing more
efficient and reduce the risk of losing money from fakes, the bank noted.
Following the issue of each denomination, older notes of each
respective denomination will be withdrawn from circulation but remain
valid at their face value. ■