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Canadian Paper Money Goes Plastic

If you shop at your local grocery store, you are often asked if you want paper or plastic bags. In the future, when Canadians pay for stuff, they will have two choices: plastic or plastic. Canada is planning on phasing out paper money and replacing it with plastic currency. The plastic notes will consist of a thin sheet of polymer. Canada introduced its first plastic note as a $100 bill.

According to a statement from the Bank of Canada, the new notes should last twice as longs as the old paper currency, plus the bills are supposed to be recyclable. Of the question arises as to why Canada is switching to plastic from paper. One reason mentioned is: security. The Bank claims that the new plastic bills contains high-tech security features that will make the plastic bills harder to counterfeit and easier to verify.

Some of the new security features consist of raised ink on the big number 100, the wording “Bank of Canada” and on the shoulders of Robert Borden, the prime minister of Canada from 1911 to 1920. Other security features are two transparent windows on the note: a small one in the shape of a maple leaf and a larger one that extends from the bottom to the top of the bill and features a small image of Borden.

A closer look at the larger transparent window will reveal that the window is dotted with small numbers, some of which are reversed. Movement of the note seems to cause the colors on some parts of the bill to shift substantially, while the color changes on Borden’s image are much more subtle.

The Bank of Canada has a video on YouTube that explains what the new security features are on the new plastic bills, and how Canadian consumers can be assured they are not being tricked by counterfeiters. Canada plans to introduce plastic $50 notes in March, and plastic $5 and $10 notes by the end of 2013.

This isn’t Canada’s first attempt at battling paper currency. In 1987, the $1 dollar bill was replaced by a $1 dollar coin nicknamed the “Loonie.” These new Canadian notes give a whole new meaning to paying with “plastic.” Polymer money isn’t all that new as Australia and Mexico have introduce their own versions of plastic bills in recent years. Australia’s first polymer notes were introduced in 1988 and was criticized for shedding some of its engraved surfaces. But the plastic bills seem to be more accepted by the public.

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