By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
Switzerland is rolling out a new small-size 50-franc banknote on April 12, representing just the first of several smaller, high-tech banknotes that will begin circulating in the coming years. The arrival of the new Swiss currency series is long awaited; the new small-size notes were supposed to be issued six years ago, but several production issues arose, including technical problems on the paper supplier’s side.
Among the changes with the smaller banknotes are new security features, the nature of which will be unveiled in the coming months. The current banknotes, released between 1995 and 1998, represent the nation’s eighth series of banknotes and are still considered secure according to the Swiss National Bank, which began issuing paper currency in 1907.
In addition to decreasing the size of the paper currency and incorporating new security features, the smaller banknotes will carry new artwork that was submitted in a design contest in 2005. While current Swiss banknotes feature some of the nation’s iconic public figures, the new paper currency will showcase a diverse array of themes, including a butterfly, snowflakes, scientific charts, and unidentifiable slalom skiers.
The Swiss National Bank is reducing the size of the notes for several reasons; these include helping to make storage of the notes easier, lowering manufacturing and handling costs of the currency, and lessening the burden on purses and wallets. Reducing the size of the paper currency will also improve automatic processing procedures over the long haul.
However, banking institutions and others will have to make several upfront capital improvements to properly adjust their equipment (such as ATMs and vending machines) to accept the smaller currency.
Following the release of the 50-franc note, a smaller 20-franc bill will be unveiled in 2017. The 10-franc, 100-franc, and 200-franc notes will be released in intervals of six to 12 months moving forward. And despite the modifications to the Swiss banknotes, at least one thing will stay the same within the nation’s monetary system – issuance of the 1,000-franc note, which is the world’s most valuable single-denomination note.
The European Union has pulled high-value currency from circulation to curb its use among militants, terrorists, and other criminals. Officials at the Swiss National Bank don’t believe the denominational value of a banknote has any impact on the incidence of criminal activity.
The violet-colored 1,000-franc banknote, which currently features a portrait of art and culture historian Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt, represents only 10 percent of the nation’s banknotes yet an astounding 61 percent of the total value of Switzerland’s paper currency. The 1,000-franc banknote will follow suit with the nation’s other denominations and be reduced in physical size by 2019.