Canada's New Currency Prompts Legal Money Laundering
Policy + Politics

Canada's New Currency Prompts Legal Money Laundering

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When Canadians take the plastic out of their wallets, they're not holding a credit or debit card--it's cash, and it will foil would-be counterfeiters because it's harder to copy.  The $100 note is made from a sheet of polymer and features two transparent windows that add extra security.  At the very least, the money is a technological wonder that could turn into the new dinner party game:  How many hidden icons, colors, and numbers can you find in the bill?

According to CNET, the polypropylene substrate lasts twice as long as traditional paper-cotton money, so the Canadians will save taxpayers a bundle on printing.  And, the bills are wipe clean and can be laundered without falling apart. 

The technology was originally developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which issued the currency in 1988.  As of 2011, at least seven countries have converted fully to polymer bank notes:  Australia, Bermuda, Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania and Vietnam.  A dozen or so more are testing the notes, presumably to check how they perform in ATM machines, and other mechanized pre-existing equipment. 

The United States, in contrast to this high tech advance, has been toying with the idea of issuing dollar coins in lieu of paper money. Imagine carrying the weight of a coin instead of thin plastic.  The Currency, Optimization, Innovation and National Savings Act bill, pitched to our crackerjack lawmakers, claims a savings of $5.5 billion over 30 years.  Of course, the coins will last longer, since no one will want to use them.