Currency notes are just paper unless they are backed by a country’s central banking system, and when others are kept away from copying it. And while there’s a long history of fake notes and coins, countries around the world try to incorporate security features in their notes that help them curb counterfeiting. For example, the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 currency notes introduced after demonetisation have security features such as the micro letter ‘RBI’ and ‘2000 and motif of Mangalyaan.
Here are common security features used by countries around the globe:
Plastic money: Countries like Canada introduced polymer notes to identify fake notes easily. A report by World Economic Forum said that the country took the decision after 470 notes were found fake for every one million legitimate banknotes. But the idea of polymer notes was introduced by Australia in 1988 and countries such as the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Chile, New Zealand, and Mexico have switched to it.
Watermarks: This is one of the most common security features for banknotes. Even India uses Mahatma Gandhi portrait and electrotype watermarks to give the notes distinct features. Many countries use watermarks created by different thicknesses of paper in the printing process, which illuminate in the light.
Holograms: More than 300 denominations in 97 currencies use holograms for protection, making them one of the most common security features globally, the WEF said. Holograms can consist of several other security features such as security threads, patches etc. The old notes, prior to demonetisation, had security thread with visible features and inscription ‘Bharat’ (in Hindi), and ‘RBI’.
Microtext: Extremely tiny texts that cannot be read with naked eyes are also one of the most common safety features on many country’s banknotes. In India, notes of Rs 20, Rs 10, and Rs 5 contain the denominational value of the notes in micro-letters. This feature can be seen better under a magnifying glass.