||Central Bank Of Barbados
June 4 marks three years since Barbados’ new family of banknotes went into circulation. These notes, the 2013 series, featured the first major redesign in the island’s then 40-year history of having a sovereign currency.
The series’ design was unveiled at an official launch on May 2, 2013, which featured speeches by officials from the Central Bank of Barbados and De La Rue, the printer of Barbados’ banknotes since 1973. Representatives from both organizations explained that while the changes made to the appearance of the banknotes were to give them a more vibrant, modern look, the project’s ultimate goal was to make Barbadian banknotes more secure – simultaneously harder to counterfeit and easier to detect any attempt to fraudulently reproduce them. They also revealed that the new design was more user friendly for the visually impaired: the bright colours allowed the partially sighted to distinguish between denominations, while the tactile areas made it easier for the fully blind to use the notes without assistance.
The official launch kicked off a public education campaign that carried the tagline “Take Note” and offered the promise of “Same Value, Advanced Security Features, Modern Design”. That campaign was aimed at familiarizing Barbadians with the design and security features of the new notes and efforts included training sessions for financial institutions, businesses and other groups; radio and television appearances; participation in community events; and the distribution of posters, flyers and booklets.
While local reaction to the new design was mixed, the international response was positive. Requests from banknote collectors increased significantly; the new series was featured in two industry publications – Currency News (UK) and Watermark (Russia); and the Central Bank was asked to speak about the project at international banknote conferences in 2013 and again in 2015. The $50 note was even nominated for Banknote of the Year by the International Banknote Society (IBNS) in 2013. Other nominees that year included the Canadian 5 dollar, the United States 100 dollar, the 5 EURO, and the Russian 100 ruble, with the eventual winner being the Kazakhstani 1,000 tenge.
More importantly, the new series succeeded in reducing the level of counterfeiting in Barbados. In 2014, the number of counterfeits in circulation decreased by more than half, and while the following year, 2015, showed an increase over the previous year, counterfeit activity remained 46% lower than it was in 2013.
With the industry accolades, renewed collector interest and the significant fall off in counterfeiting, it is clear that the 2013 redesign exercise was a success, but neither the Central Bank nor the public can afford to become complacent. As the new notes becoming more established in circulation, counterfeiters will become more willing to make attempts at replicating them, counting on the public not paying the same level of attention they initially did.
This is something Senior Operations Officer in the Currency Division, Alvon Moore has cautioned the public about: “While there has been a significant reduction in the level of counterfeiting since the introduction of the new series in 2013, there will always be attempts by counterfeiters to take advantage of unsuspecting members of the public. Counterfeiters count on people not taking the time to check the money they receive, which is why the Central Bank has always urged Barbadians not only to become familiar with the security features of our banknotes, but to check the money they receive as soon as they receive it.”
It is therefore imperative that the Bank, as issuer of the currency, continue its public education efforts, and that Barbadians use the enhanced security features – the raison d’être for the redesigned banknotes – to protect themselves.
For more information on the new family of bank notes click here