New era of plastic money to start with $100 bills
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney leaves the Bank of Canada as he makes his way to a news conference following the release of the quarterly Monetary Policy Report in Ottawa, Wednesday January 19, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:53PM EST
Canadians will notice a change in the feel of their money starting later this year -- slicker, smoother, more plastic-like.
The Bank of Canada will begin circulating its first plastic money in November, a new $100 bill made from a special polymer that will replace the cotton-paper blend used to make our existing currency.
The new $100 bills will be followed by a polymer $50 note next March and the much more common $20, $10 and $5 bills by the end of 2013.
Julie Girard, a spokeswoman for the Bank of Canada, said the change is all about security: the new notes will include anti-counterfeiting features that will make it difficult, if not nearly impossible to forge.
"We wanted to create bank notes that are difficult to counterfeit, easy to verify and just as easy to use as the old notes," she said in a telephone interview with CTV.ca.
"We want these to be notes that Canadians can use with pride."
The new $100 bills will bear a new design and will feel significantly different from the old paper money, she said.
"It's going to have a smoother feel to it," she said. "It's going to be a significant change."
The polymer material upon which the bills will be printed is a smooth durable film developed specifically for bank notes and used in a number of countries around the world, including New Zealand, Hong Kong and Mexico.
The new notes, to be printed on polymer produced in Australia, will not be a wholesale change from the old bills: the size and thickness will be the same and each of the five denominations will still be the same colour as in past series.
"We want to ensure that Canadians don't get taken completely by surprise at the change," Girard said. "We tried to include a lot of what we call legacy features."
The new series of bills will also have the same features to help the blind identify the notes, with the added benefit that they will last longer on each of the new notes.
But the driving force behind the change was the need to stay ahead of counterfeiters.
Bank of Canada statistics show a dramatic spike in forged currency between 2001 and 2004 before the current set of bills was introduced, with their holographic strips and other anti-forgery features.
The number of counterfeit bills detected fell from 142,000 in 2007 to just 54,000 last year, which Girard said was only a tiny fraction of the 1.52 billion Canadian bills in circulation.
Part of the reason for starting the new series with the $100 was because it has become a favourite target of counterfeiters, she said. "
The bank won't reveal details of the new, upgraded security measures or the new design for the $100 notes to be introduced in November.
But Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney said in a news release that each new denomination will be introduced to the public through official unveilings and advertising campaigns before they are put into circulation.
The bank has spent several years working on the new bills, consulting with financial institutions and manufacturers of bank note equipment to ensure a smooth transition to the polymer notes.
"The leading-edge technology in these notes will expand the frontiers of bank note security," Carney said.
Even after the new plastic bills are introduced, all previous Bank of Canada notes will retain their face value.