Banknote security feature makes it easier for public to spot fakes

Researchers in the UK say a security feature found on banknotes in the Caribbean island of Aruba makes it easier for the general public to spot counterfeits.

The team from the University of Birmingham’s school of psychology asked 46 volunteers to review a series of 108 banknotes and make a judgment whether they were authentic or fake after seeing it for just a split second. They were then asked to examine the notes in low-light conditions to see if the security feature was still easily distinguishable.

“Participants were able to reliably pick out authentic notes from counterfeits when they had less than half a second to view the notes,” according to the University of Birmingham, which says the study is the first to confirm the reliability of the new security feature from a user point of view.

The security feature under test was developed by Crane Currency and is based on a micro-optic lens that focuses on an icon or image underneath. The technology makes an image appear in 3D and animates it as the note is moved around, and along with the Aruba note (pictured) is also found on currency in Uzebekistan.

According to study leader Prof Jane Raymond, professor of visual cognition at the university, “most people trust their banknotes, are usually in a hurry, and often handle cash in places where the lighting is bad.”

“The big problem is that the security features on most banknotes from around the world only work well when people slow down and look carefully at them under good light. So, in lots of situations, it not so hard to miss a fake banknote.”

An ideal security feature is one that is easy for people to see and works under all sorts of lighting conditions, she continues.

“Human perception can be extraordinarily sensitive – with the 3D features, our participants were able to pick out the fake bank notes from the real ones in a fraction of a second. This research shows the real potential of modern 3D technologies to reduce the circulation of counterfeit bank notes.”

The Aruba 100 Florin note – which features an iguana on the note’s front and a traditional ribbon dance performance on the back- picked up the Bank Note of the Year Award by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS) last year.

The note features including a Crane 3D optical moving stripe, high-relief printing and colour changing ink.

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