The introduction of polymer banknotes in Australia has generated a landmark reduction in counterfeiting.
The reasons are simple: unlike paper, the security features of polymer banknotes are more complex, time-consuming and costly to reproduce to a standard that can readily be passed as genuine.
A combination of new and traditional technologies is available
Polymer banknotes utilise traditional print processes similar to that of producing paper banknotes such as the offset process, intaglio, and letterpress printing.
As the polymer substrate is non-fibrous and robust, printed security features look superior and last longer on polymer than on paper. For example, Diffractive Optical Variable Devices (DOVDs) are enhanced by 30% on polymer. Intaglio and micro-printing are more defined and experience less ink feathering.
Leading edge security
Leading edge polymer technology is more secure. It starts with the distinctive nature of the polymer substrate. The transparency of the polymer film is one of the keys that provides the basis for multi-layered, complex security features that cannot be successfully reproduced by photocopying or scanning.
Some of the security features include:
- Windows which can incorporate security devices such as vignettes, DOVDs, embossing and other optically variable effects.
- Optically variable shadow images that are more durable and superior than watermarks in paper banknotes.
- Permanent embossing and transitory images providing enhanced optical and tactile characteristics.
- The unique Diffractive Optical Element (DOE) feature which appears as a translucent patch which produces a visible image with a simple light source.
These overt security features enable the public to easily authenticate the banknotes.
The self-authenticating banknote
Innovations include the self-authenticating banknote, which improves the detection of counterfeits at the first level of defence: the public. It utilises a device in the window to verify another feature elsewhere on the note.
As an active member of distinguished research bodies including the Four Nation Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence Group, NPA's Research and Development program is dedicated to keeping ahead of the counterfeiters.
Romania's 2000 Lei is a self- authenticating banknote producing a metameric effect.
The colour brilliance of DOVD's is enhanced on polymer notes.
Number of counterfeits passed in circulation. Source: Reserve Bank of Australia