Canadian cash to do away with paper
The new polymer Canadian $100 bill has security features that make it hard to counterfeit but easy to verify.
June 21st, 2011
02:51 PM ET

Canadian cash to do away with paper

"Paper or plastic?" That question isn't asked frequently at grocery stores anymore, but it may be poised for a comeback - at Canadian banks.

The Bank of Canada will start issuing high-tech currency made of polymers instead of the traditional cotton paper and featuring transparent windows (one shaped like a maple leaf) to frustrate counterfeiters.

Security and verification features include raised ink in the numerals and the featured portrait, color-shifting images embedded in the large window, and a number hidden in the maple-leaf window.

Watch a video demonstrating the security features

"Our mandate at the Bank of Canada is to make sure Canadians can use these notes with confidence," bank spokeswoman Julie Girard said.

The first note to be issued will be the $100 bill, scheduled for November. Those will be followed by a $50 note in March and $20 note later in 2012. The $10 and $5 bills will come out by the end of 2013.

For the next six months, the Bank of Canada will work at educating the public and businesses on the new notes. It will also inform retailers, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies about how to check the new security features, the bank said in a statement.

The new bills will be the same size and colors as current bills (though thinner and lighter). They can be folded and carried in a wallet, though they can't be creased and will return to their original shape, Girard said. For carrying loose bills in one's pocket, a money clip might be a good idea, she advised.

The polymer currency will be more durable than its  paper predecessor, Girard said.

"It's not meant to go through the wash and it's not meant to go through the dryer, and it's certainly not meant to be ironed," but it should withstand the occasional mishap, she said.

Their resistance to crinkling and becoming limp like paper bills will make the new notes easier and more efficient to process, she said. For example, they won't be rejected by vending machines because of bent corners and they will stack neatly for counting machines.

The new bills cost almost twice as much to produce but are expected to last 2.5 times as long, Girard said. Their lighter weight also will cut transportation costs, and the Bank of Canada intends to recycle them when they wear out, providing another environmental benefit, she said.

As before, the new bills will be color-coded and have tactile features to help visually impaired people distinguish one denomination from another.

About 30 other countries already use polymer notes for some or all of their currency, Girard said.

Australians accepted their polymer bills and consider them more hygienic than paper ones, according to The Reserve Bank of Australia also reported it needed to devote fewer resources to checking the authenticity of the more secure notes.

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Filed under: Canada • Crime • Economy
soundoff (227 Responses)
  1. Austin

    JUst wanted to add...our paper bills I think on average last about a year and a half to 3 years, one dollar bills being passed around the most, they wear out going thru the wash, our paper bills can only handle that process a few times before they start to become quite ragged and full of small folds...but the plastic ones would certainly make counterfietying MUCH harder to accomplish....

    June 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. SteveB

    The story forgot to memntion what would happen to the paper bills already in circulation. Is there a cut off date on when they will no longer be accepted? Or will they just slowly go away as banks and other check cashing sites only issue the polymer until, eventually, people have just used up what was in their wallets and piggy banks and sock drawers.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • JKudlick

      The old bills will probably be removed from circulation on a case-by-case basis when they arrive at the central banks. Just like US bills printed decades ago are still acceptable as legal tender, I presume the same will be true in Canada.

      June 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ian

    grammar police – spelling nzis on the Internet is getting so old-

    June 21, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. J D

    I saw bills like this when I was in Australia a few years ago. They were pretty neat and, like the article notes, much more durable than paper money. I imagine the initial investment in creating bills like this is much higher, but they would soon pay for themselves in their increased durability and recyclability.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    The U.S. and Canada should have same currency.... Vive la Canada!

    June 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Neutral79

    But can you snort coke through them?

    June 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      You, sir or madam, win Best Comment. Made me LOL.

      June 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Darrel

    As long as it'a special polymer, different from other countries it's a great idea. means the US will adapt it in oooo-Never

    June 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt

    To Canadian Genius:

    The U.S. has changed its design & color on all bills (except $1) since 2003. They are still same size, but all of them different color and slightly different design. Only the $1 is still same, and new $100 will come out soon. So all of them are colorful.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dbon104

    Mexico did this 5 or 6 years ago...

    June 21, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Christine

    I live in Canada...and who even uses cash anymore? It's all Interac and credit.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Wayne

    The religious right will oppose plastic bills.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      your a partisan moron – its clearly cotton farmers that will mount the opposition (as they have in the past against 1$ coins).

      June 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • sdrawkcab

      American is right Wayne. You're a partisan moron.

      June 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • GREG

      Watching the Canadian dollar is like watching Canadian naval exercises – interesting to watch but irrelevant.

      June 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marc

      @Greg: Watching the Canadian dollar, interesting, but irrelevant: You mean the same dollar that's worth more than the US dollar ? That one ?

      July 15, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. svann

    Cash is so old fashioned.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • haha


      June 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Terri

    After watching the video, I have to say...not bad at all.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Q

    No flying saucers where I'm at Kana, they won't even buzz the state boundary LOL.

    June 21, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cinders23

    New Zealand has had "plastic" paper money for years. It's very practical. It's MONEY!

    June 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
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