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New Fight Against Counterfeit Banknotes

In November 2011, the Bank of Canada will aim to replace the 219 million banknotes currently in circulation with their new “state of the art” banknote.  The new polymer notes are not only more durable than the current paper notes, but include several security features to help minimize the threat of counterfeiting.  Good news for small business owners.

The new security features include: a large transparent window on the bill, raised ink, transparent text and hidden numbers.  The Bank of Canada comments that all denominations will have the same security features on them and have been created so that they can be authenticated by the naked eye.

Staying Ahead of the Counterfeiters

Improved security on banknotes is not a new thing.  The Bank of Canada actually revises their banknotes every seven to eight years to keep ahead of any counterfeiting threats. And it seems to be paying off.  According to their statistics, counterfeiting peaked in 2004 when 553,000 fake bills were passed, resulting in a $13 million loss to the economy. Since 2010, however, that number has reduced to 54,000 fake bills.  Although these levels are at a historical low in Canada today, it does not mean that the rates will be low tomorrow, which is why the notes continue to evolve.

When will the New Banknotes be Introduced?

The first new banknotes to be introduced will be the $100 bills in November 2011, followed by the $50 bills in March 2012, with the $20, $10 and $5 bills following in late 2o13.

The reason for this timing? The higher the denomination the lower the number of banknotes in circulation, therefore making the transition considerably smoother. However the Bank of Canada do warn that as the new high denomination bills are introduced it may cause crooks to take advantage of the old style smaller denominations whilst they still can.

Who is Responsible for Removing the Old Notes?

As always it will be the banks responsibility for removing the old paper banknotes from circulation. However you can help with the removal of the old bills by keeping the paper and polymer notes you receive separately in your tills, refraining from giving the old notes as change to customers and bundling them separately when making your bank deposits.

Preparing your Business

The new polymer notes may require you to make some changes to the way your business handles cash. For example the new polymer banknotes do not have an ultraviolet (UV) light feature, this has been replaced by hidden numbers which can checked using a single light source. Therefore any UV checkers can be removed from your tills.

You will also want to check any machines which count cash or accept cash payments – like self service kiosks – as these may need to be reconfigured by the manufacturer or be replaced if they are not compatible with the banknotes.  All manufactures have been provided with the examples of the new banknotes with which to test their machines. The Bank of Canada therefore advises business owners to contact their suppliers with any specific queries regarding their machines.  

Keeping You and Your Staff Informed

It is important, that while these changes are coming into place, that your staff are fully trained to identify the new banknotes and know how to handle any suspicious money they might receive.

The Bank of Canada is currently conducting an education campaign with local law enforcement and businesses, to prepare the public for the introduction of the new bills, and explain the new security features.  Topics include bank note security features, what to do with a suspected counterfeit and how to handle polymer notes.  Presentations are between 30 and 90 minutes in length, depending on the topics covered.  For more information contact the Bank of Canada at 1 888 513-8212.

The Bank of Canada’s website is also an invaluable resource for information specifically for retailers including a series of videos on topics such as how to identify counterfeit bills.

A series of helpful training guides are also avalilable on the site, including: the Employee Handbook, the Cash Handler Kit (including printed materials on verifying bank notes) and the Employee Quiz to test their knowledge.

Remember, security features are only helpful if you use them. So keep you and your staff educated about any updates in banknotes security features and how to deal with suspicious money, and routinely check the notes you receive.