The Life of a Bank Note: From the Lab to Your Wallet – Part 1: Research and Development

January 1, 2020

Canada’s new
polymer bank notes are among the most advanced in the world. Their security features
are state-of-the-art and are easy to verify. These notes are also
more durable than paper notes, which reduces
the environmental impact. So what’s the story?
How do you get to this? The process starts here,
at the Bank of Canada. Designing a bank note
is a rather lengthy process. In fact, it never really ends. As soon as one
series of notes is released, the process starts all over
again with the next series. Research is on-going. We are always evaluating
the latest technologies from around the world. These new notes took about
five years to develop and test. The main reason for issuing new
notes is to improve security. However, we also have to take user requirements
into consideration. For this we consult
with the public, retailers, police agencies, manufacturers
of bank note equipment and financial institutions. It takes a lot of talented
people to create bank notes. Engineers, chemists,
physicists, researchers, artists and analysts make up the Bank’s
research and development team. This team,
along with partners, developed
some new security features and adapted others
for the Canadian context. Issuing this series
of bank notes can be described as staying
one step ahead of counterfeiting. In order to succeed, they have
to think like a counterfeiter. Staying ahead of
counterfeiting is definitely a unique aspect of our job. In collaboration
with the police, we study
counterfeiting techniques and try to counterfeit
our own bank notes. But that’s not all. Bank notes are also subjected
to extensive wear and tear testing to see how
they perform in circulation. We do a lot of
durability testing to make sure that our bank notes
will survive in the real world. For example, we conduct
mechanical and chemical tests. We assess resistance to
crumpling, tearing, abrasion, extreme temperatures, finger
oils and prolonged sun exposure. As we’ve seen, the research
and development of a bank note involves
individuals who perform varied and complex tasks that
can at times be quite amazing. One of the most unique
elements of our new bank notes is the exclusive polymer
material we used. The material
gives the notes a unique feel and is more durable than paper. This polymer, in combination
with the bold security features such as
the large window containing the metallic portrait
and building, makes these
the most striking bank notes that we have ever produced. Canada’s new polymer notes. Secure. Durable. Innovative.

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