With just a few weeks to go before the first banknotes from Canada’s new series enters into circulation, here’s a behind the scenes look at the development of the new polymer notes. The development of Canada’s new polymer banknote series began nearly five years ago at the Bank of Canada. An advanced team of engine engineers, chemists, physicists, artists, analysts and researchers all came together to develop the new banknotes that the Bank of Canada calls “among the most advanced in the world.”
There are two key components this specialized team takes into consideration when beginning the process of designing a new banknote series: security and durability.
Before they even begin designing banknotes, researchers are commissioned to evaluate new security techniques from around the world. As improving security is one of the main reasons for establishing a new banknote series this can be one of the lengthiest processes.
In order to succeed in preventing counterfeiting, the development team has to “think like a counterfeiter,” Ted Garanzotic, a head scientist at the Bank of Canada. In collaboration with the police, the team studies counterfeit techniques and even tries to counterfeit their own banknotes in order to develop state-of-the-art security features.
The new Canadian banknotes feature security devices such as raised ink, a large transparent window that also contains a colour-shifting metallic portrait, hidden numbers in the transparent window that match the note’s denomination, transparent text, a frosted maple leaf window that also contains hidden numbers, among others.
Once the security features have been added and the design has been completed, the notes must then go through various stages of durability testing to understand how they will perform in circulation. These tests range from mechanical to chemical and are typically used to assess resistance to crumpling, tearing, abrasion, extreme temperatures, finger oils and prolonged sun exposure.
In the case of the new banknotes, they have been created with a polymer substrate instead of the tradition cotton-paper blend which will not only enhance durability, but will also reduce the amount of bills that have to be replaced due to typical wear and tear.
The $100 bill will be the first note released into circulation in Novemeber 2011. The $50 will follow suit in March 2012 and the $20, $10 and $5 bills will all be in circulation by late 2013. To learn more about the creation of these banknotes, watch this video put together by the Bank of Canada: