Banknotes and cash payments in general have frequently been accused of being dirty, unsanitary and of posing a risk to public health. Therefore, it is not surprising that in times of the new Corona virus (SARS-CoV-2), this narrative appears again.
Major Central Banks have advised the public that the risk of transmission through banknotes is minimal (Deutsche Bundesbank), while others have urged retailers to continue accepting cash (Bank of Canada). The current data availability does not provide a consistent picture of the situation and Central Banks around the world follow different directions, but we can be certain that a modern banknote has no significant impact on a viral person-to-person transmission. The fact that the virus survives best on non-porous materials, such as plastic or stainless steel, means that debit or credit card terminals or PIN pads could transmit the virus as well or are even more likely to do so than banknotes.
Modern banknotes are highly sophisticated, dirt-repellent, stain-resistant and can prevent the transmission of germs. Therefore, a continuous modernization of banknote families is essential, not only to support and protect public health, but also to prevent counterfeiting through advanced security features.
New designs as well as upgrades in security and technology of banknote series come with many advantages, such as:
1.) Enhanced security linked with the introduction of new and improved security features for the public
Multifunction home-printers have become very affordable and technologically advanced. At the same time, large amounts are invested in R&D to provide more and more sophisticated and up-to-date security elements. Many of these security elements are geared to prevent home-copying and digital reproduction. This is achieved with the help of optically variable inks and variable security threads, stripes, patches and windows. We have been observing certain trends:
Lately we have seen a focus on wider and optically variable Security Threads featuring holographic designs, micro-mirrors and movement- and colour change effects. They are mostly partially embedded in the paper, as well as easy to detect and long-lasting (Motion®, Rapid®, Rapid® Detect by Crane and Rolling Star® and Galaxy® Threads by G+D). Furthermore, we see a trend towards optically variable magnetic ink features (SPARK® Live by SICPA), which are long lasting due to the used printing technique and provide movement- and colour changing effects in all directions. Their colour and optically variable effects can be adapted to and matched with colour change effects of other elements, such as threads, thus providing an even higher hurdle for the counterfeiter.
The Polish 500 Zloty banknote (2017) incorporates SICPA’s SPARK® Live optically variable ink feature in the shape of a soldier’s helmet shown on the front of the banknote, along with a matching Louisenthal’s RollingStar®-security thread.