Benjamins Get a High-Tech Makeover

The U.S. $100 bill is a favorite target of counterfeiters overseas, but the United States government is staying a tech-savvy step ahead. Today’s counterfeiters are armed with computers, scanners, and color copiers, so the U.S. Treasury has redesigned the currency. On April 21, 2010, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the redesign of the “C-note,” commonly called the “Benjamin” for the face upon it. New $100 bills will go into circulation in February 2011, thus allowing time for public education. The 6.5 billion existing $100 bills with the older design won’t have to be traded in; they will still be legal tender.

The bill’s most striking new feature is a 3-D blue security ribbon made up of thousands of tiny magnifying lenses, The effect is to make tiny bells appear to change to “100s.” In addition, a green- or copper-colored Liberty Bell against a copper-colored inkwell does a “disappearing act” when the bill is tilted. And Benjamin Franklin’s eyes follow you as you walk around a room—NOT! The new $100 bill will maintain security features such as the portrait watermark of Benjamin Franklin. The makeover is the work of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is offering educational resources in 25 languages to help consumers understand the new features.

One critic of the new design says it makes the Benjamin an ugly “laughingstock” in a needless effort to defeat counterfeiters. He argues that when it comes to the matter of fraud—if fake bills are so sophisticated that they can’t be distinguished from real money, then whoever receives a counterfeit bill in payment can just use it for a purchase. Theoretically, currency counterfeiting results in mild inflation, but in reality, the amount of currency in actual use in the United States is so small that counterfeiting has no impact on prices.

Related Links

  • Press Release: U.S. Government Unveils New Design for the $100 Note
    This press release from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing introduces the new “Benjamin”—the redesigned $100 bill.
    (Source: Bureau of Engraving and Printing; accessed April 30, 2010)
  • The New $100 Note: Know Its Features; Know It’s Real
    The official Web site of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing includes a video unveiling the new $100 bill plus interactive animated explorations of each smaller bill of U.S. currency.
    (Source: Bureau of Engraving and Printing; accessed April 30, 2010)
  • Do We Need a New $100 Bill?
    This opinion piece from the Washington Post makes an interesting argument about counterfeiting in light of the announcement of the currency redesign.
    (Source: Washington Post, April 22, 2010)

One Comment

  1. jorda payne says:

    i love big face hundreds