Plastic banknotes can include a range of advanced security features, such as transparent windows – which simply can’t be achieved in paper notes - that make counterfeiting extraordinarily difficult. As well as the special polymer substrate, secure design capabilities include inks that change colour dependent on the angle of viewing, hidden images, designs that are built up on many layers to increase complexity while remaining aesthetically compelling, and the use of novel and innovative materials to build in security features that you can’t see with the naked eye. Here are some other reasons why plastic beats paper when it comes to safety and security:

Extremely low levels of counterfeiting
Polymer makes life tough for counterfeiters. The polymer is made using a unique ‘bubble’ process in a four-storey high chamber making advanced use of both gravity and air. This technology is impossible to replicate easily. The results can be seen around the world where polymer has replaced paper notes. In some instances [1], the proportion of counterfeit notes in circulation has dropped from as high as 30% to virtually zero.

Multiple levels of security
Plastic banknotes make it easy to incorporate numerous levels of security [2] that are extremely challenging to counterfeit. The ‘Public’ level includes features that are visible to the naked eye, such as inks that change colour. At the ‘Professional’ level are features that only become visible using a simple device, such as images that can only be seen in certain light, including UV. Finally, ‘Covert’ level features need a specific, forensic device to be detected.

High levels of user confidence
The more secure a banknote is, the more confident people are about using it. Wherever they have been introduced, plastic banknotes have been popular with the public, achieving high approval ratings [3] from consumers and retailers.


[1] Banco de Espana, Billetaria, April 2009, The use of polymer in the banknotes of the Banco de México, Pg. 7
[2] CCL Secure, 2020, Security Features, [online], Available at: https://cclsecure.com/securityfeatures/
[3] Banco de Espana, Billetaria, April 2009, New Zealand’s experience with polymer banknotes, Pg. 13

Want to know more about plastic banknotes?



Banknotes that last longer, take more wear and tear and cost taxpayers less to make.


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Made from materials that can be recycled to reduce environmental impact.