Media Release Response to Questions from The Australian

Next Generation Banknote (NGB) Program

A core function of the Bank is to issue secure banknotes. Australia has one of the safest and most secure currencies in the world. It has experienced relatively low levels of counterfeiting for many years. To ensure that this remains the case, the Bank continually researches new anti-counterfeit technologies and developments in banknote design. In addition, over recent years, the Bank has had in place a program to upgrade the security of Australia's banknotes.

The upgraded banknotes will incorporate a number of new features that will mean Australia's banknotes will remain secure into the future. The banknotes will retain many of the key design elements of the current banknote series, such as the colour, size and portraits, but some design changes will be necessary to accommodate the new security features.

Considerable work has already been undertaken on this project, including the development and review of banknote designs and production trials of new security features. But it is important that the new features are rigorously tested, durable, and effectively incorporated into the banknote designs. The Bank will also consult extensively with relevant stakeholders to ensure that Australia's banknotes continue to meet community needs. As such, it is anticipated that it will be several years before the first of the upgraded banknotes will be issued. Other denominations will be issued progressively in subsequent years.

The Next Generation Banknote Program (NGB) was established in 2007. The total investment in this program over this period has been around $9.3 million.

Banknote Design Process

Dating back to the late 1990s, the Bank has maintained a research and development program to examine innovative technologies and develop features that can enhance the security of Australia's banknotes. This program was initially referred to as the Currency Upgrade Program (CUP) and was then subsequently renamed as the NGB Program.

As part of this research and development program, the Bank explored preliminary designs and undertook production trials to assess the efficacy of these security features on a polymer banknote. Much of this work was undertaken by staff employed by the Bank and Note Printing Australia (NPA). To assist with this work, the Bank engaged an external designer in 2008 to provide concept designs for a single banknote.

Following this preliminary work, concept designs for all five denominations were commissioned. Given the likelihood that these designs would form the basis of the final banknote designs, the Bank sought quotes from, and then engaged, three eminent banknote designers. Two of the three designers were Australian – one had been involved in the development of the current banknote series and the other had previously worked with NPA designing banknotes for a number of countries. The Bank also engaged NPA to develop a concept design, but due to resource constraints, NPA outsourced the work to a reputable and experienced banknote designer located overseas. The banknote designer was well known to the Chief Executive Officer of NPA as he had worked extensively with the designer when they had both worked on the redesign of the Swiss banknote series in the 1990s.

The Bank undertook a fair and rigorous assessment of these designers. These designers were chosen by the Bank because they were experienced and well regarded in a highly specialised field. The overseas banknote designer's experience and his previous relationship with the Chief Executive Officer of NPA was disclosed to the Bank's management at the time.

The Bank has evaluated the three concept designs and has selected a preferred designer to work with to refine the designs to ensure public acceptance and that there are no production issues.

The total cost to the Bank of the work undertaken by these designers was around $550,000.

Banknote Production Costs

The Bank has decided that NPA will print the new banknotes. This was done after an extensive evaluation of other options including consideration of the costs of production and various risks that could arise from overseas production. NPA has extensive experience in printing banknotes on polymer and has been closely involved in the Bank's recent research effort. The new security features will involve some additional costs, however, producing the banknotes domestically will ensure the continued high quality of Australia's banknotes.

Due to the internationally commercially sensitive nature of the information about banknote production costs, the Bank is unable to comment on current and future production costs.


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Reserve Bank of Australia

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