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Govt goes high-tech to redesign $100 bills

AP/PTI  |  Washington 

I / Washington April 22, 2010, 11:23 IST

The folks who print America's money have designed a high-tech makeover of the $100 bill.

It's part of an effort to stay ahead of counterfeiters as technology becomes more sophisticated and more dollars flow overseas, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says.

The makeover, unveiled yesterday by Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, may leave people wondering if there's magic involved.

Benjamin Franklin is still on the C-note. But he has been joined by a disappearing Liberty Bell in an inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon composed of thousands of tiny lenses that magnify objects in mysterious ways. Move the bill, and the objects move in a different direction. The new currency will not go into circulation until February 10 next year. That will give the government time to educate the public in the United States and around the world about the changes. "We estimate that as many as two-thirds of all $100 notes circulate outside the United States," said Bernanke, who stressed that the 6.5 billion older-design $100 bills now in circulation will remain legal tender. The $100 bill, the highest value denomination in general circulation, is the last bill to undergo an extensive redesign. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing began the process in 2003, adding splashes of colour to spruce up first the $20 and then the $50, $10 and $5 bills. The $1 bill isn't getting a makeover. The changes are aimed at thwarting counterfeiters who are armed with ever-more sophisticated computers, scanners and colour copiers. The $100 bill is the most frequent target of counterfeiters operating outside of the United States while the $20 bill is the favourite target of counterfeiters inside the country. The redesigned $100 bill had originally been expected to go into circulation in late 2008 but it's introduction was delayed to give the government time to refine all the new security features. The government has prepared education resources in 25 languages to inform the public about the design changes and is giving people a chance to view the new bills on its website.

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First Published: Thu, April 22 2010. 11:23 IST
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