Canada launches anti-fraud plastic banknotes

New polymer bills replacing paper-cotton notes are full of anti-counterfeiting security features.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
2 min read
The Canadian $100 bill has hidden numbers that are only viewable with a single-point light source. Bank of Canada

Canadians will be packing more plastic in their wallets with the launch of new polymer bills that replace paper-cotton notes.

The Canadian dollar has traded above parity with the U.S. greenback for months, and gets technologically tougher with the new plastic money designed to thwart counterfeiters.

The polypropylene substrate lasts 2.5 times longer and makes it harder to copy than the existing paper-cotton money, according to the Bank of Canada. It marks the first full-scale use of a substrate other than paper for Canada's currency.

The two-windowed $100 note enters circulation in November and celebrates Canadian contributions to science. Aside from images of DNA, an ECG, insulin, and a researcher using a microscope, it has two portraits of Prime Minister Robert Borden. One is a unique holographic likeness set in a clear plastic window that changes colors with the viewing angle.

As seen in the promo vid below, other security features include raised ink, transparent text, and hidden numbers. If you look through the frosted maple leaf emblem at a single-point light source and hold it close to your eye, you'll see a hidden circle of numbers that match the face value of the note.

A $50 plastic note featuring Prime Minister Mackenzie King and the Canadian Coast Guard research vessel Amundsen will enter circulation next March. Smaller denominations with similar security features will follow.

The polymer $5 note will feature Canadian robots on the International Space Station--the Canadarm2 and Dextre.

It's no wonder the notes trumpet Canadian technology. What few Canadians will know, however, is that the polypropylene substrate is manufactured by an Australian company.