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The Almighty Buck

New US $20 bills Released, Colors & Layout Change 1051

JayBonci writes "CNN is running a story with the newest advances in the original copy-protection arms race, a new US $20 dollar bill. From the article, specifically color and different number arrangements as an improvement over 1996's "Big Face" dollar bills." Little off the norm for Slashdot, but it's interesting since computers have vastly simplified forgery.
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New US $20 bills Released, Colors & Layout Change

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  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by ( 637314 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:49AM (#5945350) Homepage Journal
    is the next story for today, "How to use your Linux machine for forgery?"

    This is off the norm, with the decline in jobs I don't see too many 20s! :(
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Surak ( 18578 ) * <surak AT mailblocks DOT com> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:05PM (#5945539) Homepage Journal
      You need SANE, a scanner supported by SANE, The GIMP, a modern printing system (CUPS is pretty good), and a good inkjet printer supporting on your printing system of choice.

      First you ... &^&*^(*^%^&%*&%%*%* %%^T&(

    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:44PM (#5946007) Journal
      The question I have now, as I did the last time the US Treasury decided to do this sort of thing is, why would a forger bother with trying to forge one of the newer looking bills? The old $20's are still accepted everywhere, and have not become harder to forge. Seriously, if I was going to do something like this I would just make up a batch of older style $20's, put them in a wallet and run them through a few washer/dryer cycles to make them look a bit beat up. Then trek down to my local Wal-Mart and pass a few of them off to buy stuff. Wash-Rinse-Repeat (literally).
      If anything this is just another example of our tax dollars being wasted in a futile attempt to stop a crime which, I believe, is not very rampant. This money could be better spent keeping the govenment out of debt and keeping inflation down. Sure the counterfeit bills increse inflation, but probably less so than the government printing more money everytime it feels the need. If anything, I think we would be better off if the govenment would only print as much money as it destroys, and then turn the presses off.

      • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

        by weave ( 48069 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:57PM (#5946149) Journal
        This is an excellent point and one that i was wondering about. Unlike other countries who routinely decommission monetary instruments (with a brief trade-in period), the United States refuses to do so. Why? It helps support the dollar's strength. Everyone all over the world knows if they stuff chests full of american currency inside their walls, it will still be good in the future. They won't have to drive it to some US bank to exchange it for the latest bills. Why do you think Saddam had so many dollars stashed?

        So, basically, in order to keep our currency the choice of the (under)world, we refuse to expire it.

  • by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5945351) Homepage Journal
    Send them to me and I'll dispose of them in an environmentally safe way.
  • 7-10 years?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phroggy ( 441 ) * <.moc.yggorhp. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5945354) Homepage
    Holy crap, redesigning bills every 7-10 years? What the hell are they thinking?

    When the current $20 bills came out, I heard of people having trouble using them, because apparently a few people somehow didn't hear that new bills were being released so obviously thought they were counterfeit. The current bills are pretty obvious, though, now that everybody knows about them. Now they're saying there will be subtle changes every few years, so in another decade there will be like 4 different versions of the $20 bill, ALL LEGAL. If you saw a fifth version, which was counterfeit, would it be obvious to you?

    Yeah, they're including new security features. That's cool and all, but how often do people really check them? Sure, on a $100, people check. On $20 they usually don't. They still go by appearance and texture, just like they always have.
    • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#5945453)
      I don't know about that 4 different versions thing... according to this, [] the average lifespan of a 20 dollar bill is 4 years. Two different types could be in circulation at the same time, but 4?
      For that matter, when was the last time you saw an "old-style" 20 from before the last redesign?
      • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Havokmon ( 89874 )
        For that matter, when was the last time you saw an "old-style" 20 from before the last redesign?

        Yesterday. No foolin.

        And not everybody keeps their money in banks.

    • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:00PM (#5945488) Homepage Journal
      This will be a boon for counter fitters.

      "Don't be an ass, it's not counterfeit, it's the new twenty that just came out this fall."

      All a counter fitter needs to do is come up with a bill chock full of security features and start spending it like there's no tomorrow. As people get used to the new bill every few years, it will become commonplace.

      Remember the story of the person who passed a $3.00 bill with Bill Clinton's face on it? All they could charge him with was failure to pay, since he hadn't really counter fitted any money.
      • es/news-20010130-161443.html
      • This will be a boon for counter fitters.

        Firstly, I think you mean counterfeiters, not counter fitters - counterfeiters forge money, passports, designer clothes, etc but counter fitters fit counters. OK?

        Secondly, issuing a new design of bank note clearly cuts down on counterfeiting and opportunities to commit monetary fraud in several ways:

        1. The new design is different from the old one.

        Thus, any plates, etc a counterfeiter has for the old note are useless once the old note has been removed from gener
        • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:21PM (#5946422)
          1. The new design is different from the old one.

          Doesn't matter, the old design is still (il)legal tender.

          2. A new design takes time to counterfeit.

          Exactly, so they'll keep using the old ones (see #1). However, their are the "king of the mountain" counterfeiters that are just in it for the accomplishment of gettting away with a phony bill, but they also do not typically do large runs of their bills.

          3. New designs incorporate tougher security measures.

          See #2 and #1.

          4. New note designs promote consumer vigilance.

          I guess, but if I have only explicitly checked my money for fun to see the different things added to the new bills. I don't really care if I have a phony bill, if it was good enough to be given to me, its good enough to spend.

          5. New bank notes are successfully introduced and old ones replaced every day.

          No, the old ones are not replaced, they are still valid money, and every 20years is hardly every day. Plus the note in question has been replaced in 1996 so the new one would be 7 years.
    • by EinarH ( 583836 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:02PM (#5945509) Journal
      Now they're saying there will be subtle changes every few years, so in another decade there will be like 4 different versions of the $20 bill, ALL LEGAL. If you saw a fifth version, which was counterfeit, would it be obvious to you?
      You live in a banana republic with almost an banana economy; so what did you expect? ;-)

      Several different versions of the same bill is so thirdworldish.

    • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:09PM (#5945608) Homepage Journal
      When the current $20 bills came out, I heard of people having trouble using them, because apparently a few people somehow didn't hear that new bills were being released so obviously thought they were counterfeit. Look here []. I don't think that the ``new look'' will be a big deal: it's not that new.

      Now they're saying there will be subtle changes every few years, so in another decade there will be like 4 different versions of the $20 bill, ALL LEGAL. If you saw a fifth version, which was counterfeit, would it be obvious to you?

      Here I think you've found a real problem. People DON'T look at their money. It's surprising how few people even check the $50's and $100's. Right now there are two versions of every bill, in 2004, it will be three, and just as you say, NO ONE is going to know what the newest versions look like until they see them.

      That leads to a sick-but-funny possibility: some merchant takes a ``new'' $20. Later, you come into his shop, spend your ``new'' $20, and he calls the cops, who haul you away for counterfeitting. The problem? The first $20 was counterfeit, and yours was real, and neither the merchant nor the cops knew the difference.

      Since no American is educated about their money, it could happen. When the new bills with the watermarks and threads came out, I had to explain what they were to most of the store clerks who noticed. I only knew about them because I'm a coin collector.

      • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:32PM (#5945875) Journal
        That leads to a sick-but-funny possibility: some merchant takes a ``new'' $20. Later, you come into his shop, spend your ``new'' $20, and he calls the cops, who haul you away for counterfeitting. The problem? The first $20 was counterfeit, and yours was real, and neither the merchant nor the cops knew the difference.

        When I still lived Canada, this happened to me. I went to an ATM, took out some cash, and walked next door to McDonalds.

        I ordered my QP with Cheese, and handed the clerk a 20. She then went back and got her manager, both of them gawked at the bill, and then the manager tells me she cant accept it.

        This pissed me off, since I don't like people accusing me of a felony. The funny thing was, the currency was at least a year old at the time. I guess McDonalds employees dont often see anything bigger than a five. (Having worked there when I was 14 I can attest to that).

        Anyways, I told the manager to either accept the bill, or call the cops. It says right on the currency, "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private". Technically, that means, you either accept it as payment, or agree not to be paid. (I've heard of assholes running around with 1000 dollar bills demanding that if a clerk doesnt accept it they dont have to pay at all)

        Now where am I going with this story? Oh yeah, she called my bluff and called the cops. The cop came and asked what the problem was, and she walked around the corner with him all in private like she just busted some great counterfeiting ring. The cop, visibly annoyed, pulled one out of his wallet, held them side by side for McTwitwich, and said there was nothing wrong with the bill.

        So then I decided I wanted Arbys. I didnt really want Arbys. Noone really wants Arbys. But thats what I said, and I left.

        People are educated about their money. You read the article just now didnt you? If people are too stupid to educate themselves, thats their own fault.
    • by AKnightCowboy ( 608632 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:20PM (#5945738)
      The current bills are pretty obvious, though, now that everybody knows about them.

      My $20 bills already look like this new one since everytime I seem to have one the god damn cashiers run a highlighter over it. What, pink and yellow highlighting is the new anti-counterfeiting technique? I thought defacing currency was a federal offense.

    • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Milo Fungus ( 232863 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:22PM (#5945761)

      Yeah, they're including new security features. That's cool and all, but how often do people really check them?

      That's the most troublesome thing about it, IMO. From the article:

      Thomas Ferguson, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, acknowledged the new bill would not discourage counterfeiters from this process [leaching], but he said there would still be features that, with a quick look, could distinguish a "leached" note as counterfeit.

      "It will still have a different watermark and security strip. You could tell the difference in about 15 seconds," Ferguson said. (emphasis mine)

      15 seconds?! Imagine how long you would be standing in line at Wal-Mart if the checkers took 15 seconds on every $20 bill they saw! 15 seconds adds up quickly, especially the day after Thanksgiving or Boxing Day. Another thing is that this guy is an expert. He's probably among the most knowledgeable white hat money makers out there. If it takes him 15 seconds, it's bound to take Suzy Dropout, the Wal-Mart checker, a bit longer (if she does it properly, that is).

      As an aside, I spent a couple of years in the UK and learned to really appreciate their money system. US notes are BORING. It's good to see more colors on our new ones. Maybe they'll also change the relative sizes of the notes? (Not that changing the sizes would necessarily thwart counterfeiting, but it was a nice touch to the UK system, IMO.)

      • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PhilHibbs ( 4537 )
        Your bills are all the same size? Good grief, how do visually-impaired people cope? I suppose I should have deduced that from the mention in the article of the technique of bleaching and reprinting smaller bills as larger denominations. It's totally impossible with ours.
        • by Saige ( 53303 )
          Visually impared people? In the US? They're not impared, they're just lazy mooches who can't be bothered to put effort into seeing. They shouldn't be able to tell the bills apart if they're not going to work hard enough to see clearly like all the other hard working Americans.

          And don't get me started on all those people who are in wheelchairs because they are too lazy to walk. Don't give me that wussy politically-correct "they're paralyzed" crap either. That's just a lie of the liberal media!!!
    • Re:7-10 years?!? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ahfoo ( 223186 )
      I think it's great to add colors but not because it has anything to do with security. I'm just glad to see any change in the currency and I say the bigger the better. I would hope that this shake up in the currency will make people more likely to accept other future changes in the currency and eventually help move closer towards a standardized electronic currency which could be revolutionary in so many ways.
      I've always felt that one of the core problems with e-commerce was that the default e-currency
  • The new $20 bill ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shant3030 ( 414048 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5945355)
    I've always been in favor of having a hologram on our currency. It seems to be an effective way to curb counterfitting. Without a change of the shape and surface area of the bill (ie. a clear patch with a hologram), just changing the colors on a bill is more of a nuisance than a deterrent.

    • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:15PM (#5945673)
      This was actually considered, attempted, and dismissed. The problem with the hologram was that it didn't survive all of the torture tests required, since paper money gets the shit kicked out of it in circulation.

      If memory serves, I think the hologram they designed had passed all but one of the torture tests. These included baking them in extremely hot ovens, rolling them, washing them, etc.

      The test on which it failed was the crumple test. They set the bill on top of a metal tube, and a shaft came down and pressed the bill into the tube, crushing it incredibly. When it came out and was flattened, the hologram was severely wrinkled and crushed, and the holographic image was (obviously) no longer able to be seen.
  • Better pics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kaeru the Frog ( 152611 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5945357)
    You can find some better pics here [].
  • Yesh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jdehnert ( 84375 ) * <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:50AM (#5945361) Homepage
    If they change them any faster, You'll be able to make your own and pass them off as the latest, newest , most non counterfitiest $20.
  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:51AM (#5945362) Homepage Journal
    I can finally use all the colors in my ink-jet cartridge.
  • It's about time the U.S. has updated their bills, but I don't think that this is enough. Take a look at British Money to see how difficult you can make it for a counterfitter. Big watermarks, multiple color dyes that penetrate the fibres of the paper. The old U.S. bills you could bleach a $1 bill clean and print a $20 dollar bill on it, and nobody would be the wiser.
    Ironic that the most precious thing a nation could have would also be the cheapest.
    • by legojenn ( 462946 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:53AM (#5945391) Homepage
      I'm surprised that they didn't include that little scratch & win thing like they have on Canadian 20s and above. Nothing makes a currency seem valuable than making it look like a lottery ticket.
    • Don't forget that in Britain (and many other countries) bills of different values have differnt physical sizes.
    • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:03PM (#5945516) Journal
      Actually, there are the colored bands that go through the paper with the denomination printed on them. So while you can bleach a one, you cant remove the plastic strip inside that has "1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1" on it.

      It's virtually impossible to replicate every single feature in modern currency. What the big counterfeiters hope for is to fool most of the people most of the time, and get an army of kids/lackies to pass the bad notes for them.

      Counterfeiting is more about finding ways to pass the bills than create them - it always has been.

      You have to find clerks and gas station attendents. But since most stores have you on camera, it's easier to find the guy who passed the bad bill. You'd be a complete idiot to go to Best Buy and pick up a fancy Alienware PC and 21" LCD monitor with counterfeit 20's.

      Better would be strangers on the street ("hey buddy can you break a 20?"). Street level drug dealers and prostitutes no doubt get a lot of funny money.

      But it's a slow, labor-intensive process.. You have to pass one note at a time, and in the smaller denominations, as to not arouse suspicion.

      It's much like other organized crimes like drug dealing or bookmaking - it's not generating the money thats the problem, it's getting rid of it (laundering).

      They'll probably never make an "impossible-to-duplicate" bill, but they can make the enterprise of counterfeiting so fraught with headaches and dangers that few would even bother.
    • Ironic that the most precious thing a nation could have would also be the cheapest.

      The most precious thing a nation could have is not its money! Geez ....

    • The more features you put in a bill, the fancier they get, and that seems to me like more work to detect a counterfeit. How many stores actually have the time to spend even 15 seconds checking every $20 bill? Buy something for $41, pass 3 twenties, get $19 back ... is the clerk really going to spend 45 seconds checking those bills? No way can they do that every time, all day, all year, and be any good at it.

      Plus, changing them all the time, now there are several different kinds in circulation, more thin
    • The Liberty dollar has better counterfit protection then federal reserve notes. dna coding, micro printing plus 3 other secret messures. This is from verify first technologies. [] Its also backed by silver and gold.

  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#5945374) Homepage
    I've worked in the financial world for a bit, and I'm always surprised by how bad most counterfit bills look.

    95% of the time, counterfeit bills are accepted by people who don't seem to notice that while the bill corners say $20, George Washington is in the center. Or that they're printed on normal grade paper.

    I'm sure the government is making the change to the $20 for "big time" counterfeiters, but it seems like most of the time it can be prevented on the retail level by people just using their heads.
  • But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by archetypeone ( 599370 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#5945375) Homepage
    they haven't changed the size?! Why is it that no blind people have sued over this?
  • What about size? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sebi ( 152185 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:52AM (#5945379)
    Isn't it about time that different dollar bills start coming in different sizes? Isn't it pretty standard for counterfeiters to bleach a small denomination bill and print the image of larger ones? Different sizes would at least make this practise a bit more difficult. That doesn't stop forgery in euro-land, but it does make it just a bit more difficult. I thought that holographs would be pretty effective, but in day to day commerce nobody looks to closely. The best way to make sure that your bills are genuine is using ones that are really unpopular. Last weekend was the first time that I saw a 200 Euro bill. And that was one and a half years after the introduction of the currency.
  • by cwernli ( 18353 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:53AM (#5945389) Homepage
    As long as the name doesn't change it's A-OK: immagine the dollar being called the "Amerio"...
  • by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:56AM (#5945436) Homepage
    Have you ever handed a cashier a note and had them examine it with an expert eye to determine if it was real or not? Obviously if you hand someone a piece of monopoly money, they're going to know right off the bat that it's "not real". But if I hand a clerk at Subway a counterfeited 20$USD, nobody is going to know it until the bill falls into the hands of someone who's paying attention. By then, it's covered with finger prints. Now this will make it more difficult to make similar-looking currency, but I don't see how it solves the problem.
  • by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:57AM (#5945450) Homepage
    While the adaptation of colors and revising the layout of the dollar bill is a nice deterrent, there is one thing that would be nice to see: dollar bills that the blind could use.

    In Japan for years now, not only are the coins and dollar bills used in different colors (for easy glances to see how much money someone has), but they are of different sizes and shapes that make the coins recognizable by the blind. The 10,000 Yen bill is the longest, while the 1,000 is the shortest. Even the 5 Yen coin has a hole in it to separate it from the other coins (yes, this also goes back thousands of years to the Chinese "cash" coins).

    Seeing as how all American bills are of the same size, I imagine that it must be slightly frustrating for a blind person to trust someone they don't know to be completely honest about money and take $5 instead of $50. Unfortunately, I can't see the Treasury Department putting some sort of Braille marker or other deliniating factor into future money production.

  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @11:59AM (#5945478) Journal
    I read some time back that that a move like this costs the taxpayer/letter sender close to 200 MILLION everytime we change the currency (stamp machines in postoffices) and that it costs companies like Coca Cola several BILLION to change over or update their machines. It makes me think of the motive. Is it the vending machine industry or anti counterfeiting / retailers lobby?

    Moves like this reak of the Sopranos. The same people that make vending/coin change machines also make lottery ticket distribution and numbering systems and slot machines!!

    If the vending industry were smart they'd be lobbying for money readers REQUIRED to accept cash at retail that would authenticate bills and serial numbers OR going to plastic/mark of the beast I suppose would solve the whole thing ;)

  • Anecdote (Score:5, Funny)

    by Schnapple ( 262314 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:00PM (#5945490) Homepage
    True story: a friend of mine went to a popular burrito joint in town and paid for his $5 burrito with a then-new $20. The cashier somewhat blindly thinks its a then-relatively-new $100, so gives him $95 in change instead of just $15. The friend took the money and left quickly.

    I told him he was all horrible and evil for doing so - but I'm not sure I wouldn't have done the same.

    • Re:Anecdote (Score:5, Funny)

      by digitalsushi ( 137809 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#5945652) Journal
      I gave the first window at Wendy's a 10 dollar bill a few weeks ago, and they gave me back change for a 20. So I told the lady at the second window what she did while giving her a 10 dollar bill, and the lady put the 10 in her pocket and called me "retarded" right before shutting the window. I'm thinking that's ironic somehow.
    • Re:Anecdote (Score:5, Insightful)

      by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:22PM (#5945764) Homepage
      True story: last week I was shopping with a friend and the cashier somehow rang up the purchase at about $30 less than it should have been. Said friend pointed this out to the cashier, who then rang up the purchase at the correct price.

      So retail folks often make mistakes. Sometimes in your favor, sometimes in favor of the store. Which is more impressive: remaining silent and taking advantage of it, or saying something?

      Especially considering that the more you think about it, the more you realize society runs on trust and relies on people to do the right thing more often than not...
  • Rumanian Lei (Score:4, Informative)

    by neonstz ( 79215 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:02PM (#5945505) Homepage

    Some of the Rumanian lei-bills (at least the 10000 bill) are quite difficult to counterfeit (with a standard pc). They have a hole covered with transparent plastic (which also has some kind of watermarking). I don't see why anyone would counterfeit lei though, since the 10000 bill was worth 50 cents or less when I visited Bucharest.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:03PM (#5945519)
    At the behest of the FBI (or maybe it is the secret service since counterfeiting is their purview) all color photocopiers in the USA embedded a watermark with a unique serial number identifying the copier used.

    For some reason this fact is not well documented, but here is at least one reference [](pdf) in an IBM report from 1998. See the section on tracking.

    This can be a problem for cheap counterfeiters (well-equipped ones won't have a problem either acquiring a copier on the blackmarket or using a modified one) but it also can suck for whistleblowers making copies of documents. If the copier used can be identified it makes it that much easier for a vengeful company/government to identify the whistleblower and take "corrective action."

  • Time to verify? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Havokmon ( 89874 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:04PM (#5945535) Homepage Journal
    "It will still have a different watermark and security strip. You could tell the difference in about 15 seconds," Ferguson said.

    Umm. 15 seconds is the MAX time a credit card terminal should take to authorize a transaction (including dial-time which should only be once if you have a lot of customers in a line). Do they really think people are going to spend that amount of time, PER BILL for each customer?

  • by non ( 130182 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#5945553) Homepage Journal
    in europe, many stores, kisoks, etc. have purchased small uv light detectors, especially after a flood of fake 50 bills. the interesting thing is that washed bills of any denomination usually fail this test. at one point i had carried a 50 that i had been told was fake by my bank for six months. i went to another bank and asked them about it, they told me that it was real, and then took me downstairs to while they checked it with the 100,000 machine they have. they also explained that there are very simple tests for checking a bill; they have little ridges stamped into the bill that can't be washed off and are very difficult to fake.
  • by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:06PM (#5945569) Homepage Journal
    Date: May 12, 2003
    Re: New version of $20 bill

    Dear Treasury Department (cc to Bureau of Printing and Engraving):

    The new release of the product looks ok. I think it still needs some work, though. There are some additional features that I would like to see in the upcoming $20 bill v. 2.3 beta release:

    1. P2P sharing
    2. Centerfolds (!) (note: not Andrew Jackson - think modern, maybe Denise Richards)
    3. Self-generation (try making paper from those Wizard's Apprentice broomsticks)
    4. Encryption, so that only I can use my bills

    BTW, please, please do implement a "software activation" thingy. That would be really lame.

  • Dollar coins (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PateraSilk ( 668445 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:12PM (#5945651) Homepage
    What I wanna know is, when are they going to phase out the dollar bill? The Sacagawea dollar coin went the way of the Susan B because they kept printing singles. Coins have a pocket life of 30 years, compared to 3 for bills. If we're gonna spend the time and money in a coin let's actually make it work.
    • Re:Dollar coins (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tenebrious1 ( 530949 )
      The Sacagawea dollar coin went the way of the Susan B because they kept printing singles.

      No, they went that way because nobody used them.

      They are too heavy to carry. I have a couple sitting in the ashtray of my car in case I need to get a soda or something, but I never carry any in my pocket- they're just too bulky to replace singles.

      Second, most vending machines still don't accept them. They get stuck, and you lose a buck.

      Third, you ever try slipping a dollar coin into a stripper's g-string?
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:15PM (#5945685) Homepage
    They have to print a unique serial number on each one, anyway... well, why not a barcoded serial number? You've seen the "Where's George" website... well, as part of Total Information Awareness, why not equip every cash register with a scanner that relays the serial number to a central database, and as soon as the same serial number is seen in two places at the same time, zap!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah... not very good... how about get some _creative_ suggestions for ingenious, wonderful, complicated technical fixes?
    • by Ioldanach ( 88584 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:47PM (#5946044)
      You've seen the "Where's George" website... well, as part of Total Information Awareness, why not equip every cash register with a scanner that relays the serial number to a central database, and as soon as the same serial number is seen in two places at the same time, zap!

      Anonymity. The people with the tinfoil hats already tend to think the plastic strip with the #'s printed on it (20 20 20 for a $20 for example) includes a magnetic id that tracks who spends what, where. If your suggestion came to pass, the anonymity of purchases made with cash would be just as transparent to law enforcement as credit cards.

      While I may never have purchased anything illegal, it still remains that I don't want the government tracking my every purchase. Allowing money tracking (which I do think the currency changes over the next 50 years will work towards) is a slippery slope. Sure, you can claim its ok because its being used to thwart counterfitters, but with all that nice juicy data in the computer they can find all the people who bought pot from some dealer they caught. And then someone decides to extend the 2050 Patriot Act to allow the feds to track down the people who bought certain books without having to ask the bookseller or librarian (like the current Patriot Act allows them to do).

      I like my anonymity, thin as that veil is. Please don't give the government an excuse to take it away.

  • by NewbieV ( 568310 ) * <victor.abrahamse ... g m a i l . com> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:19PM (#5945725)
    A little Googling turned up this article [] in December's Business 2.0 about counterfeiting and terrorism... interesting for the background into several counterfeiting technologies.
  • If they'd just take Jackson off the twenty, I'd be happy.

    If you're not aware, this is the guy that was responsible for deporting many of the native americans to Oklahoma. You might recall that the Cherokee were pretty well "integrated" into society at the time, and they did what any other wronged group would do: they sued in court.

    And won. The Supreme Court ruled that "the laws of the state of Georgia 'can have no force' within Cherokee boundaries."

    This fine president, who we honor by putting his name on our money, said "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!"

    What a fine example of our American politics.

  • Plastic Money (Score:5, Interesting)

    by awol ( 98751 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:20PM (#5945742) Journal
    Australia has been using plastic notes for years. These notes are much harder to forge they have a transparent section and a translucent dual sided motiff incorporated into the design to aid forgery identifcation. And that is just for starters, other benefits include that the notes last many times longer (and hence despite the higher cost to produce they save the treasury loads), they go through the wash just fine (and you can even have them in your board shorts whilst surfing without fear of being unable to buy a pie for lunch). They don't really tear (they do but its much harder to get started on the rip) and are generally much more durable. They look kinda weird even for Australian currency, and the one drawback is that IIRC they are a bit more difficult to handle if you are manipulating lots of cash manually.
  • But why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by homebru ( 57152 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:23PM (#5945775)

    What problem is solved by adding another new design?

    The two previous designs are still legally in circulation. Since they were / are apparently counterfeitable (is there such a word?), adding a new design does nothing to make the older designs un-counterfeitable.

    Unless the older designs of currency are de-monetized, new designs do not solve a problem. (Older readers with military service may remember the MPC[1] script coversion days[2].) Yes, eventually almost all paper money will wind up being captured by banks and turned in for destruction. But it takes years to remove most of a type of bill and the remaining copies are still legal money. So the older patterns are still vulnerable.

    [1] MPC - Military Payment Certificates. See google or eBay.
    [2] Script conversion days - A twenty-four hour period during which all personnel were required to exchange their MPCs for the same value in a new series (new colors, new pictures). At the end of the conversion period, old series script was worthless and had value only as a colorful curiosity. Failure to exchange meant that you lost. No excuses, no make-ups, see the chaplain.

    • Youre going to tell me that my 20 year old dollar bill, issued with the full faith and trust of the governemnt, is no longer good? Gee, what a quick and dirty way for the government ot make money. "WEre sorry sir, despite the fact that we promised it would be good forever, you missed yesterdays cutoff date for trading your bills. Theyre wastepaper. Thank you for paying off part of the debt" Yeah. Like this wouldnt shatter the economy, as i and most other people switch to gold and euros as my currency
  • by Xaroth ( 67516 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:25PM (#5945796) Homepage
    My thought is this, and I'm surprised it hasn't floated its way to the top of the modded posts already:

    Of what use is a new anti-counterfit bill if they don't recall the old, easily counterfitted ones? Counterfitters won't even try to adjust to the new bills if the old ones are still in circulation and legal tender - there's just no reason to.
  • Deception Dollars! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by funwithstuff ( 555638 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:28PM (#5945824) Homepage
    Does that mean they'll be producing a new Deception Dollar? []

    Seriously, though, the US could do worse than differentiate its different bills more clearly. Almost every other country makes it clearer (different sizes, very different colours) which can make it tricky for tourists. Australian notes (plastic, bright colours) are great, purely because they go through the wash and come out the other side. But I don't have to count large piles of the slippery things...
  • by jea6 ( 117959 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:34PM (#5945895)
    We run the web infrastructure for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on our DataHost platform. Starting about 2 hours ago (when the unveiling press conference ended) we've been sustaining over 20Mbits per second of traffic. As I look at the monitor now, we're doing 33Mbits/sec. Most of the traffic has been US-based, though we expect an overnight surge as Asia wakes up. Gotta go back and look at histograms now - Bolivia just took a keen interest in the new $20 note. Don't forget to stop by the BEP store ( []) and pick-up some neat collectibles (though, nothing with the new twenty until later this year). All the info on the new twenty is at [].
  • by re-geeked ( 113937 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @12:53PM (#5946112)
    So, to give you all something to bicker about, I wonder if this means we should go to coins only, and start minting $100, $50, $20, $10, and $5 coins.


    they can't be counterfeited (or at least it's much harder, correct?)
    machine sorting is easier
    last longer
    that cool jingle in your pocket
    will accelerate use of debit cards


    Form factor - need a coin purse, not a wallet (correctible? credit-card shaped & sized coins?)
    More expensive to produce (but really, how bad can it be if pennies are coins and $100 bills are paper?)
    How big would a $100 coin be anyway?
    Will accelerate use of credit cards

  • by mpthompson ( 457482 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:03PM (#5946223)
    I wonder if these relatively rapid changes to U.S. paper currency are a reaction to the fact there is now another paper currency vying for dominance -- namely the Euro. I believe that the vast majority of counterfeiting of U.S. currency occurs outside the U.S. and if the Euro is considered more secure in this regards it could be a serious threat to the dominance of the U.S. currency throughout the world. If this is indeed the case, it is in our (the U.S.) best interest to react to real and perceived vulnerabilities as quickly as possible and the American public had better get used to these kinds of changes to the revered greenback on a regular basis. As always, competition is a potent catalyst for change.
  • silly money! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:08PM (#5946273)
    Pre-euro Dutch money was the absolutely silliest money on earth.

    Check out these babies (the top ones are the newest you should be looking at;
    10 guilder note []
    10 guilder note [] 25 guilder note [] 50 guilder note []
    100 guilder note []
    250 guilder note []
    1000 guilder note []

    If you don't have much time, just check out the 250. The newest notes feature almost exclusively abstract images, raised ink as well as different levels of height in paper (quite distinguisable by hand, or even in daylight), LSD induced colors, barcodes, microprints of poems, and no image of any identifiable person whatsoever!

    Really, click on those links, and if you collect money (who doesn't? ;-) get your hands on some of those notes.. They are very purdy! Did I mention silly?

    I was sad to see these wonderful notes go the way of the dodo with the introduction of the euro.. The euro is even a weaker currency (the guilder was linked to the Deutsch Mark, one of the hardest currencies in the basket).
  • What about Chips? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hipster_doofus ( 670671 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:09PM (#5946284) Homepage
    One of the most secure "currencies" I've seen are casino chips. A counterfeiter would have to be incredibly skilled to create anything similar to some of the chips that Chipco [] and Paulson Gaming produce today. These are the chips that you see most-often at any major casino around the world. Not only is the chip material nearly impossible to duplicate, the counterfeiter would have to have some *very* sophisticated equipment to duplicate the dye and printing that chip manufacturers are able to accomplish.

    As an owner of a set of Chipco chips, I can also attest to the fact that they are very durable and easy to clean, which should mean that we wouldn't have to make so much new currency each year just to replace the currency that gets worn out.

    Why don't we all start using chips and plaques (the rectangular chips that you see used mostly in high-roller rooms)?
  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:13PM (#5946329) Homepage Journal
    I once received a bogus $10. Wanna know something weird? Because of the bad quality, it looked a little like that new $20 on CNN.

    And the subtle changes thing is nothing new. I mean, the Sackopotatoes dollar coin was apparently put in place to phase out the $1 bill, and before they refaced the $10, they put the security strip into it. As far as the dollar coins, I myself prefer them to $1 bills anyway - I don't have to fart around with trying to convince the farebox on the bus that the bill I feed it is a one, rather I just drop the coin in and go along my merry way. But I digress.

    That they're making Yet Another version of the US $20 bill is kinda cool, but let's go with a standard and stick there for a bit. Better yet, let's reface ALL paper currency, conspiracy theories be damned.

  • by Xenex ( 97062 ) * <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:17PM (#5946371) Journal
    Why paper? Polymer notes last longer, are much harder to damage, and are much more difficult to counterfeit. Also, adding extra anti-counterfeiting measures such as transparent windows, micro-print, and watermarks is simple.

    Why so much green? All the US notes are green, which makes distinguishing between denominations take longer than it should. If the notes were coloured, only a quick glance would be required to check denomination, especially for people with vision impairment.

    To speak from my own experience in Australia, it's been all polymer notes since 1990 []. Each note is a different colour and length, doesn't rip, and is terribly difficult to counterfeit.

    I'm just surprised this new $US20 isn't polymer. The technology works - why not use it?
  • It happened to me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <> on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @01:19PM (#5946399)
    I was in a coffee shop about 3 am one Saturday when this kid tried to pay for his coffee with a fake ten (This is in Canada, the land where Moose rule).

    The fake was easy to spot, printed on smooth paper on a colour ink jet printer - what made me laugh was some of it had got wet and the ink had run...

    We called the cops and the kid disappeared.

  • It figures... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trolling4Dollars ( 627073 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @02:48PM (#5947482) Journal
    What a dull design. I don't understand why America never tries something a little more radical with their money. Australian money has a much better design overall. Their bills appear to be made of a plastic or paper/plastic hybrid. They also have a clear portion which would be much harder to counterfeit. But I think the best feature of Australian bills is that the actual physical width of the bill increases with the value of the denomination by about 5 mm per bill. That makes it so much easier to tell ata glance what value your bill has without needing to actually read the numbers. I, for one, would love to see the old fashioned greenback go the way of the T-rex.
  • Currency changes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by labradore ( 26729 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @03:03PM (#5947685)
    I, for one, am very sick of all this changing currency. I run a laundromat and depend on a bill changer. If the currency changes then I must pay almost $1000 for a new bill reader to accept the new 20s. The bill reader does not make me money, it is just the cost of doing business. Every time our stupid government decides to change the currency, that's more out of my pocket and into the pockets of the damnable changer manufacturers.
  • by elmo13 ( 252565 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @03:27PM (#5947966) Homepage
    First they try to stop us making 'back ups' of our music and videos (for personal use of course), then they make it even harder for us to make 'back ups' of our money.

    Thats just stupid

    -- (America doesnt exist)
  • by ukoda ( 537183 ) on Tuesday May 13, 2003 @05:06PM (#5948985) Homepage
    I recently travelled to the US from New Zealand and found the money a real pain. Kiwi money is plastic and all different colours and sizes. Over here you simply look at the edge of the notes in your wallet to see the correct colour and fish out that one. While in the US I had to remove the notes from my wallet first so I could read the numbers. As a tourist this made me feel uncomfortable about doing public transactions, not being one who likes to 'flash the cash'.
    I worked on note vending machines at the time of our change from paper to plastic money so I was one of the people invited to the Reserve Bank to see the features of the new money. We where given real and counterfeit US money and asked to tell which was which, it was impossible to tell to the untrained eye. Then we where shown some of the methods used to try and counterfeit the Australian currency, which uses the same technology as ours. At was funny to see bits of paper with holes cut in them for the clear window etc. They also showed off some ideas they haven't used yet. One was a clear window at each end with printed lines that create an interference pattern when the note is folded in half. I also saw what happens if you over heat the plastic notes, they shrink ! But don't worry you have to get them real hot to do that. On a practical note (no pun intended) you need to look at static handling for new plastic notes in note handling machines or else the stick together.

Air is water with holes in it.