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New banknotes: Is that $50 the real deal?

New security-enriched $20, $50 and $100 notes roll out next month. Here’s how to tell the real from any fakes.

Your cash box has been brightening since New Zealand’s vibrant new $5 and $10 notes began circulating last October. Those tills are about to get even more colourful as new $20, $50 and $100 notes hit the streets in May.

The new notes are the same size — and are still made of plastic — but have a clearer design, with the value shown in larger print to help those with low vision. Te reo Māori features more prominently, with the words Te Pūtea Matua, which means Reserve Bank, on the front and Aotearoa on the back of each note.

The key features that affect you and your business, however, are new security elements that make it even easier to tell the real from the fake. Several are brand new, and some are enhanced versions of existing security elements. They include:

  • a colour-changing bar on the native bird icon
  • a puzzle number that lines up when the note is held up to the light
  • a larger window with a more detailed metallic element
  • raised ink on the large denomination number.

If you receive a banknote that doesn’t have all of these security features, avoid handling it so the police can trace the counterfeiter. Either refuse to accept the note or store it in a bag or envelope and tell the police immediately.

Because $20, $50 and $100 notes are dispensed by ATMs, you can expect to see the new notes arriving in your till soon after their May release. The Reserve Bank estimates it could take up to 18 months for the current banknotes to be rotated out of circulation. In the meantime, both sets remain legal tender. You can accept old and new notes, and may give out both in change.

Check out the new notes, read the stories behind the designs, and learn more about improved security features on the Reserve Bank's Brighter Money website (external link) .

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