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G&M: Canada’s new plastic banknotes will be nearly impossible to fake


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Canada’s new plastic banknotes will be nearly impossible to fake

Canada’s gradual shift to slick, cleaner, synthetic banknotes won’t just mean your money can stand more wear, will not tear and, for the first time, will be recycled into other products instead of destroyed.

The Bank of Canada and the RCMP hope that once the polymer-based notes are in circulation – starting in November with the $100 bill – they’ll also be all but impossible to fake.

Canada has already made strides in limiting counterfeiters’ ability to reproduce Canadian money, after an alarming surge earlier this decade, Bank of Canada and RCMP data show. But despite the growing impression that we’ve become a cashless society, Ottawa says half of all financial transactions in Canada still involve cash, which means faith in banknotes’ authenticity still makes the economy go ’round.

Beefed-up security features on the current stock of cotton-paper notes, and an aggressive campaign to train retailers to spot imposters, have helped bring the number of counterfeit bills found each year to 35 per 1 million in circulation, after a rash of fraud between 2001 and 2004 brought that number to a peak of 470 per million bills.

But even 35 per million, which translates into a small fraction of 1 per cent of the value of all bills in circulation, is higher than the share found each year in Australia, where polymer-based currency was first introduced in 1988.

Senior Bank of Canada officials weren’t ready to claim counterfeiters would never again be able to outsmart the technology and security features being used to make Canadian money. However, at a briefing Monday in Ottawa, they said they’re confident it will be much harder to pull a fast one on any retailer who knows what features to look for.

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