Integrity and Ethics
Guardian® - Facts and Figures
20 September 2013
Using Polymer Banknotes
What are polymer banknotes?
Polymer banknotes use a polymer substrate on which to print the normal offset and intaglio print layers the public sees on any banknote
Guardian® accounts for more than 99% of polymer banknotes found in the market today
There are more than 20 Billion Guardian® notes currently in circulation
More than 35 Billion Guardian® notes have been printed since they were first introduced to the market in 1988
Guardian consists of three major elements: the base film called Clarity®C; the opacified print layers that enable offset and intaglio inks to adhere to the substrate; and security features that are either printed or embedded in the 75µ deep substrate
Guardian® notes offer benefits to Central Banks and the public that paper substrate cannot offer
How are polymer notes made?
The polymer is created using a unique ‘bubble’ process in which a four storey-high chamber, gravity and air are used to create the base film (click on the image below to enlarge)
This base film is called bi-axially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) and is used exclusively for the creation of Guardian® substrate, which combines the base film with opacification print layers and security features that are both embedded and printed
Clarity®C – and therefore Guardian® – can be verified as authentic using a Verus® detector
The basics of a Guardian® note in cross-section
Why do Central Banks switch to polymer banknotes?
Central Banks are extremely well considered before they change the substrate of their national currency
Many study the use of Guardian® in other countries and when convinced of the benefits, will start the process by testing the use of Guardian® on one or two denominations
The benefits are extremely compelling and include dramatically reducing counterfeits in circulation, saving many millions of dollars in taxpayer funds due to their greater durability, being more hygienic and environmentally friendly, and helping Central Banks make the management of their banknote supply more efficient
How many countries use Guardian®?
Guardian® is currently used in 23 countries worldwide including
Australia since 1988
Mexico since 2002
Canada since 2010
Read the complete list of all countries that have issued Guardian®
How are polymer notes different from paper?
As a three-dimensional transparent substrate, research worldwide consistently indicates that the public find Guardian® notes visually engaging due to the clear window and the vibrant and intricate designs that are possible
Guardian® notes have a smoother feel than paper – printing works will often use intaglio (ie, raised) print layers to give Guardian® notes their tactility
Do new notes stick together?
Yes, when paper or polymer notes are brand new, they can sometimes stick together at first
As the notes circulate this stops happening
Before counting a stack of new notes, separate them by fanning, tapping, shuffling or snapping them
Can these notes be used in ATMs?
Yes – there are many countries around the world that use polymer banknotes in ATMs
Commercial banks and cash handling organizations report that polymer is much cleaner and easier to work with than paper
Paper notes shed fibres inside ATMs that builds up and requires regular maintenance
What benefits does polymer offer over paper?
Guardian® notes offer the following benefits:
Durable – by lasting 3 to 5 times longer than paper which means we produce less notes overall.
Waterproof – Whether it’s saltwater, freshwater or in the washing machine, polymer notes remain useable.
Secure – these notes allow us to stay ahead of counterfeiting through the use of leading edge security features – if we use polymer for higher denominations this will be a major benefit
Clean and Green – polymer notes are proven to carry less bacteria than paper and are also to proven to be far more environmentally friendly than paper
Do they last longer than paper?
Yes, polymer notes have been used worldwide for the last 25 years and are proven to last at least 3 to 5 times longer than paper
Can Guardian® notes be recycled?
Yes, once the notes become worn or damaged, Banks are able to recycle the notes
Can I clean them off if they get dirty?
Yes, they are resistant to dirt and oil and can be cleaned with a damp cloth
Can I fold or crease my notes?
Whether paper or polymer, it is better to keep your notes flat, not folded
To help them last longer, avoid creasing or crumpling them
When the user comes across crumpled or creased notes, it is recommended they flatten them by applying pressure or by curling them with one’s hand
staple the notes together, as this may cause them to tear
What should I do if they get a tear?
While polymer notes are very durable and it is hard to start a tear in them, they can tear quickly if they are nicked
Torn notes can be mended with tape and used again
Checking Your Polymer Banknotes
Do I need to check my own money?
Even when a Bank introduces one of the most sophisticated and secure banknote substrate technologies to the market, every individual is still responsible for protecting themselves from professional banknote counterfeiters
Is it easy to check the banknotes myself?
Guardian® banknotes include innovative and easy to recognise security features that can be seen from both sides of the banknote
The notes are specifically designed to be easy to authenticate but extremely difficult to replicate
What impact does Guardian® have on counterfeiting once introduced to a monetary supply?
Due to the significant technical hurdle that Guardian® presents to casual and semi-professional counterfeiters, counterfeiting rates drop by at least 80% when first introduced to a monetary system
Professional counterfeiting operations remain a threat which requires the collective efforts of Guardian®, law enforcement, printers, suppliers, and the Central Bank
Educating the public on how to quickly authenticate a genuine banknote is also an important ingredient
Other key elements of successfully staying ahead of professional counterfeiters include:
Ensuring the note has adequate security through embedded security features, security inks, and integrated design
Introducing an upgraded generation of each denomination every 6 to 8 years
Working with law enforcement to quickly identify the source of counterfeit material in a city
How do rates of counterfeiting compare between paper and Guardian®?
Across every market in which Guardian® has replaced paper, the rates of counterfeiting are significantly lower, often in the order of at least 80-90% lower
The counterfeits that are detected in a monetary system using Guardian® are usually poor quality and easily identifiable as a fake note
Design on Guardian® is focused on enabling the public to quickly authenticate each note as they receive it – which is the best defense against an individual suffering the pain of being caught with a counterfeit, which is worthless and cannot be redeemed
How do Central Banks fight counterfeiting?
The Banks fight counterfeiting by:
Researching, developing, and issuing new banknotes with more advanced security features
Offering free training to people who use cash regularly (like retailers and tellers) so they can identify and report counterfeit banknotes before they enter the cash supply
Supporting law-enforcement agencies in their efforts to investigate and prosecute this crime
Ensuring that banknotes in circulation are of good quality
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© 2014 Innovia Security