Paper Money

U.S. government seeks new anti-counterfeiting features

The latest version of the $100 Federal Reserve note incorporates multiple anti-counterfeiting devices, including a prominent blue security thread. The government is seeking recommendations for new devices.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is seeking outside help in adding new anti-counterfeiting features to future United States currency issues.

A Request for Information (RFI) posted July 22 on the U.S. government’s System for Award Management official website under the classification “Synthetic Dye and Pigment Manufacturing” says that the BEP is looking for new ways to integrate machine-readable features into future versions of U.S. paper currency. Their use will be to help detect and deter counterfeiting.

The request is only for information or ideas, which the government says it will not pay for. It stipulates that all costs are at the responding party’s expense. It is not seeking a business proposal.

Parties have until Aug. 31 to decipher and respond to the dense, bureaucratically-written request. Among the specified requirements are that anything presented should be novel and not available commercially. The proposed feature can either be incorporated into the substrate itself or applied later.

Other requirements for the hidden, machine readable element mentioned are: (1) even experts should have trouble identifying it; (2) it should be “difficult to elucidate the functionality or detection mechanism of the feature,” (i.e., hard to explain how it works); (3) it should be readable by what it calls a “highly discriminating standalone detection system”; (4) neither the material nor the technology should be susceptible to simulation or duplication.

The BEP adds that any proposal may be evaluated for compatibility with design, production, and environmental factors, durability, acceptability, and other processing requirements. It will consider only things that have already been proven feasible.

GCN, a website for information technology companies working in the public sector, offered an explanation of what the BEP is looking for by using the latest $100 Federal Reserve note as an example. It cited the 3D security ribbon that changes from a strip of decorative bells into a column of 100s when tilted; and the 100 in the lower right corner, and the inkwell that changes from copper to green in color when the bill is tilted. It also mentioned the Franklin watermark, the security thread embedded in the paper, raised printing and microtext.

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