Paper Money

Brazil releases new largest value 200-real bank note

The Central Bank of Brazil began putting its highest value bank note, a 200-real note, worth about $38 in U.S. funds, into circulation at the end of August.

Images courtesy of the Central Bank of Brazil

The Central Bank of Brazil began putting its highest value bank note, a 200-real note, worth about $38, into circulation at the end of August. It is the seventh denomination in the second series of reais bank notes, joining the 2-, 5-, 10-, 20-, 50- and 100-real denominations.

It is expected that 450 million of the new note will be printed this year. The entire series has security features including watermarks, color-changing numbers and holographic stripes, as well as raised lines to assist in nonvisual identification.

The note will show the “lobo guará,” or maned wolf, a 3-foot-tall animal weighing about 66 pounds. Its habitat in Brazil is the Cerrado, an endangered tropical savannah that once covered an area to the east and south of the Amazon bigger than Great Britain, France and Germany combined.

The bank conducted a survey to choose the fauna for its new denominations. The two with the most votes were the sea turtle and the golden lion tamarin, also known as the golden marmoset, a small endangered monkey. Since these creatures are already depicted on the 2- and 20-real notes, the National Monetary Council voted for the maned wolf.

This is not its first appearance on Brazilian money. It was featured on the short-lived 100-cruzeiro-real coin in 1993.

The faces of the notes in the second series are identical except for color. They show the head of an allegorical female known as the Effigy of the Republic.

The introduction of the latest new note was accompanied by some controversy. Bloomberg reported that it quickly generated comments online that it could incentivize corruption by making it easier to hide large amounts of cash, and could be hard for ordinary citizens to use and break for change. The bank responded that the move was necessary to ensure an adequate supply of cash on hand while the public was demanding more bills during the pandemic. A bank official added that printing the bank notes had no relation to inflation, which remains “stable and controlled.”

Brazil has had eight different currencies since 1942, a consequence of what the Central Bank of Brazil describes as the “Brazilian economy’s propensity to boom-and-bust cycles marked by persistent inflationary trends, balance of payment crises and abrupt currency depreciations.” The first of the new currencies was the cruzeiro. Today’s currency, the reais (or real) replaced the cruzeiro real, which circulated for only 10 months, in July 1994.

Brazil’s current real series of notes features various security devices aimed at combatting counterfeiting.

The higher denominations, starting with the 50-real bank note, has a holographic stripe indicating the value of the note and REAIS alternating, seen when the note is tilted. Tilting the note also enhances the picture of the animal on the by making it colorful, and several motion colors appear on some of the devices (the leaf on the 50-real note and the coral on the 100-real note).

The denominational number also changes color when the note is tilted, and a “brilliant bar seems to roll up and down the number,” according to the website.

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