Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 2006 Note Printing Australia and Securency

Note Printing Australia

Note Printing Australia Limited (NPA), based at Craigieburn in Victoria, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Reserve Bank, which produces currency notes for Australia and export and was the first printer in the world to issue a complete circulating currency note series on polymer substrate. With Securency Pty Ltd, which supplies print‑ready polymer substrate, it has led the way in establishing the polymer technology as a viable alternative to paper.

During 2005/06, NPA produced 220 million notes for the Reserve Bank and 161 million export notes, continuing the high level of production established the previous year. Among the export deliveries were orders for Bank Negara Malaysia, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Bank of Papua New Guinea and Nepal Rastra Bank. NPA produced its four billionth polymer note in April 2006, one measure of the success of the polymer technology. Another measure is that a number of other currency note printers have now taken up the polymer technology, in many cases assisted by technology transfer from NPA.

The outlook is for another strong year in 2006/07, with an order for 265 million notes from the Reserve Bank, and confirmed export orders of 188 million notes for countries in Asia, South America and the Pacific. Two export customers have recently entered long‑term supply agreements with NPA.

New investment in 2005/06 has tightened process controls, increased productivity and improved print quality. An additional note-sorting machine raised capacity in the finishing area. The control environment was improved by the implementation of new IT infrastructure and management systems.

As the Reserve Bank undertook a program to improve the quality of notes in circulation, the National Note Processing and Distribution Centre, operated by NPA under contract from the Reserve Bank to reissue or withdraw circulating Australian notes, processed a significantly higher volume of currency notes than in recent years, achieving higher rates of productivity in the process.

NPA continued to work closely with Securency in research and development, marketing and customer support for international business. The activities of the two companies in export markets complement each other. NPA has now printed 51 denominations for 18 countries, including Australia. Securency has supplied polymer to printers overseas for a further 18 denominations in six countries. In all, 23 countries, covering all continents, have issued polymer currency notes. Australia, New Zealand and Romania have converted all their denominations to polymer, while Vietnam, Brunei and Papua New Guinea are approaching full conversion.

In addition to currency notes, NPA prints other security documents, including Australia's passports. During 2005/06, 1.8 million Australian passports were printed and assembled for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Almost all of these were the new electronic-chip passports, which were officially launched in October 2005. NPA was awarded a gold medal for innovation at the 23rd National Print Awards for the electronic passport.

Export Orders for New Polymer Notes(a)
First issue Customer Denomination Issue
1990 Singapore 50 Dollar Commemorative
1991 Western Samoa 2 Tala Circulating
1991 Papua New Guinea 2 Kina Special Issue Circulating
1993 Kuwait 1 Dinar Commemorative
1994 Indonesia 50,000 Rupiah Special Issue Circulating
1995 Papua New Guinea 2 Kina Special Issue Circulating
1996 Papua New Guinea(b) 2 Kina Circulating
1996 Brunei Darussalam 1, 5, 10 Dollar Circulating
1996 Thailand 50 Baht Special Issue Circulating
  500 Baht Commemorative
1997 Thailand(b) 50 Baht Circulating
1997 Western Samoa 2 Tala Circulating
1998 Sri Lanka 200 Rupee Commemorative
1998 Malaysia 50 Ringgit Commemorative
1999 New Zealand 5, 10, 20, 100 Dollar Circulating
1999 Papua New Guinea 50 Kina Circulating
1999 Romania 2,000 Lei Commemorative/Circulating
1999 Indonesia(b) 100,000 Rupiah Circulating
1999 Northern Ireland(c) 5 Pound Commemorative/Circulating
1999 Taiwan(c) 5 Dollar Special Issue Circulating
2000 New Zealand 10 Dollar Millennium Note Commemorative
  50 Dollar Circulating
2000 Romania(b) 10,000 Lei Circulating
2000 Romania(b) 500,000 Lei Circulating
2000 Papua New Guinea 2, 10, 50 Kina Special Issue Circulating
2000 Papua New Guinea 10 Kina Circulating
2000 Bangladesh 10 Taka Circulating
2000 Brazil(c) 10 Reais Commemorative/Circulating
2001 Kuwait 1 Dinar Commemorative
2001 Solomon Islands 2 Dollar Special Issue Circulating
2001 China(c) 100 Yuan Commemorative
2001 Vietnam(c) 50 Dong Commemorative
2001 Romania(c) 50,000, 100,000 Lei Circulating
2002 Mexico(b) 20 Peso Circulating
2002 Nepal 10 Rupee Circulating
2003 Papua New Guinea 20 Kina Commemorative
2003 Vietnam 50,000 Dong Circulating
2003 Vietnam(c) 50,000, 500,000 Dong Circulating
2003 Zambia(c) 500, 1,000 Kwacha Circulating
2003 Romania(c) 1,000,000 Lei Circulating
2004 Singapore 10 Dollar Commemorative/Circulating
2004 Brunei Darussalam 50, 100 Dollar Circulating
2004 Chile 2,000 Pesos Circulating
2004 Malaysia 5 Ringgit Circulating
2004 Vietnam(c) 100,000 Dong Circulating
2005 Romania(c) 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 Lei Circulating
2005 Papua New Guinea 100 Kina Circulating
2006 Singapore(c) 2 Dollar Circulating
2006 Vietnam(c) 20,000 Dong Circulating
(a) Excludes repeat orders
Denominations shown were printed by Note Printing Australia, except for:
(b) Printed by NPA and an overseas printer
(c) Printed by an overseas printer
For both (b) and (c), Securency exported polymer substrate for printing the denominations shown.
Special issue circulating notes are printed for general circulation and often feature an overprint to commemorate a special event. Commemorative notes are designed and printed to commemorate a one-off occasion (and are usually manufactured in low volumes and not necessarily circulated widely).

In recent years, NPA has widened the range of security products it offers, based on the polymer note-printing technology, including by producing academic transcripts for a number of universities.

NPA's Board operates under a charter from the Reserve Bank Board and comprises Graeme Thompson, Chairman (a former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank), Richard Warburton AO (a former non-executive member of the Reserve Bank Board), Les Austin (a former Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank), Mark Bethwaite (former Chief Executive of Australian Business Ltd) and Frank Campbell (an Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank). The Chief Executive of NPA is Chris Ogilvy.


Securency Pty Ltd is a joint venture between the Reserve Bank and Innovia Films, a global supplier of polypropylene films. Securency sells to NPA, and other currency note printers overseas, high‑security polymer substrates that it produces by applying unique coatings and security features to the specialised films supplied by Innovia. It currently supplies three types of substrate: Guardian® to high‑security printers for currency notes; Sentinel® for other high‑security documents, such as land titles and academic transcripts; and Sentrii® for secure cards.

Securency achieved record output during 2005/06 and expects to achieve even stronger results in 2006/07. Repeat orders from several countries indicate increasing international acceptance of the polymer technology, which has combined lower long‑term cost with lower rates of counterfeit. All orders in recent years have been for circulating notes, as opposed to commemorative or special issue notes, which were quite common in the early years of the application of the technology.

In 2005/06, Securency produced substrate for a range of denominations in Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Singapore, Vietnam and Zambia. About 90 per cent of Securency's revenue comes from exports.

Graph showing Securency Sales

Nine new denominations were launched on Guardian® during the year, including a new redenominated series for the National Bank of Romania (NBR) (six denominations), Papua New Guinea's new 100 kina, Singapore's new $2 note and Vietnam's 20,000 dong. The Romanian series is significant as the first series to be fully redenominated on polymer; the NBR will issue an additional denomination, the 200 lei, on polymer later in 2006. Banco de Mexico has announced that it will issue its 50 peso and a new 20 peso note on polymer, while the State Bank of Vietnam announced that it will convert all its denominations to polymer. The Central Bank of Nigeria recently placed orders for its first polymer denomination – a redesigned 20 naira to be issued in 2007. An innovative optically variable security feature called G Switch® was launched on the new 100 kina for Papua New Guinea and will be on a number of other notes to be issued in 2006.

Photograph: Graeme Thompson, Chairman, right, and Myles Curtis, Managing Director, left, assess progress during construction of Securency's plant expansion.
Graeme Thompson, Chairman, right, and Myles Curtis, Managing Director, left, assess progress during construction of Securency's plant expansion.

Securency is currently more than doubling its manufacturing capacity at Craigieburn, with a new facility to be commissioned later in 2006 to accommodate the rapid growth in demand for secure polymer substrate around the world. The new plant will enable Securency to improve its service to customers while also providing scope to expand its research and development program. It will also be the blueprint for further expansion internationally in the coming few years.

Securency has successfully marketed polymer substrate for Sentinel® secure documents and Sentrii® secure card substrate, receiving orders for substrate for Taiwan Land Titles and to produce the South Australian Driver's Licence.

Securency's Board comprises three directors appointed by the Reserve Bank, three appointed by its joint-venture partner, and the company's Managing Director, Myles Curtis, as a non-voting member. Securency's offices and plant are located at Craigieburn, on the same site as NPA and adjacent to the Innovia plant that supplies it.