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The best currency note of the year... it's not India's

December 07, 2016 08:24 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be nudging Indians towards a cashless economy, but everyone knows currency notes are never really going out go out of circulation.

Among other aspects, the International Bank Note Society looks at currency notes from a perspective many of us seldom don't. So then, there the annual design contest for new banknotes.

Founded in 1961, the IBNS says it promotes, stimulates and advances the study and knowledge of worldwide banknotes and paper currencies along educational, scientific and historical lines.

For over a decade, IBNS has been coming out with a Banknote of the Year. And no, India hasn't won it yet. And neither is it among the nominees this year.

That, however, can change if somebody (ahem a paid member at that) decides to nominate the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes for the award before January 31, 2017.

The rules: Banknotes nominated must have been issued to the public for the first time during the year of the award, and must have artistic merit and/or innovative security features and be in general circulation.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at the current contenders:

Switzerland's 50 Franc Note

Released: April 2016

Features: This note comes with "state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting protection". This multi-faceted protection includes design features that can only be seen under a microscope or using UV light. The note's security strip lists all of the Swiss mountains over 4,000 metres high from the Aletschhorn to the Zumsteinspitze. The front site of the note features a dandelion while the rear side shows a mountain range.

Maldives 1,000 Rufiyaa Note

Released: December 2015

Features: (Front) Underprint of spot and striped pattern on the skin of whale sharks; denomination as registration device; manta rays (Manta alfredi); green turtle (Chelonia mydas); corals SPARK patch; luxury resort. (Back) It is vertical with no security thread; features a whale shark (Rhincodon typus). The theme of this note is "the beauty in our surrounding."

Scotland's 5 Pound Note (Royal Bank of Scotland)

Released: October 2016

Features: The note, which features illustrations of Scottish poet Nan Shepherd and is part of a new series of 'Fabric of Nature' themed notes, is made from a De La Rue's Safeguard polymer material. It also contains a variety of new security features, making it difficult to counterfeit but easy to authenticate. Behind Nan's  portrait sits a picture of the Cairngorms (a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland) as well as a quote from her book 'The Living Mountain'. The reverse  of the £5 note features two mackerel, the single most valuable stock for the Scottish fishing industry, as well as an excerpt from the poem ‘The Choice’ by Sorley MacLean.

New Zealand's 50 Dollar Note

Released: April 2016

Features: There is an oval window that has the denomination of the note embossed in it. When the note is held up to the light, one sees the fern window from the back of the note shining through. As the note is moved, the colour inside the bird changes and a bar rolls diagonally across the bird shape. The large transparent window next to the portrait has many intricate details such as the value of the banknote at the top and bottom and a detailed border showing ferns and kowhaiwhai patterns.
It has many details such as the bird’s silhouette, a map of New Zealand, a 3D feature showing the value of the banknote, and delicate silver ferns.

England's 5 Pound Note

Released: June 2016

Features: The new polymer five pound note is the first of of the Bank of England's notes not to be printed on paper. The new flexible plastic notes are designed to be cleaner, more secure and stronger. It has a portrait of Winston Churchill from a photograph taken in Ottawa by Yousuf Karsh on December 30, 1941. It also has a view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank looking across Westminster Bridge. The image of the Elizabeth Tower shows the hands of the Great Clock at 3 o'clock -- the approximate time on May 13, 1940 when Churchill declared in a speech to the House of Commons: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." This declaration is quoted beneath the portrait. The note has a background image of the Nobel Prize medal which Churchill was awarded in 1953 for literature, together with the wording of the prize citation.

Georgia's 50 Lari Note

Released: February 2016

Features: The banknote features Queen Tamar, who ruled Georgia from 1184 to 1213, a period known as the 'Georgian Golden Age'. The note has a holographic stripe and a magenta-to-green security thread. The serial number composed of two Roman letters and eight Arabic numeral.

Belarus' 100 Ruble Note

Released: June 2016

Features: The front of the note features the Radziwills' castle in the town of Nesvizh, Minsk Region. The other side has a collage devoted to the theatre and folk festivals (a violin, a tambourine, a zhaleyka woodwind instrument, the belts of Slutsk, and the symbols of folk festivals such as the "Kalyady's star", a she-goat, and "Batleyka" folk puppet theatre).

Sweden's 100 Kronor Note

Released: June 2016

Features: The new note featurs Greta Garbo, a Swedish-born American film actress during the 1920s and 1930s who was nominated three times for the Academy Award for Best Actress. The banknote has a colour-shifting image linked to the person portrayed on it -- in this case a strip of film. The banknote's denomination, 100, is also shown in the image. The image and the denomination gradually change colour between gold and green when you tilt the banknote.

Australia's 5 Dollar Note

Released: April 2016

Features: When the banknote is tilted, the number 5 inside the building alternately appears forwards, disappears, then appears backwards. The new banknote depicts a species of Australian wattle, the Prickly Moses wattle, and a native bird, the Eastern Spinebill, within a number of the elements. There is a new 'tactile' feature to help the vision-impaired community distinguish between different denominations of banknotes.