The first new Australian currency note in a quarter of a century will start hitting banks then hip pockets and handbags from this morning.
The revamped $5 bill might be just enough to buy a cup of coffee in some parts of Australia, but it comes in a fresh new design with enhanced security features to make life harder for counterfeiters.
The new “fiver” comes with a range of security features, including a world first top to bottom window and security features that can be viewed when the note is tilted.
While the bill maintains the characteristics of the outgoing $5 note, it features a different species of Australian wattle — the Prickly Moses — and a native bird, the Eastern Spinebill.
The rollout of the $5 bill comes after 10 years of research, trials and consultation with the cash handling industry and counterfeit experts.
The Reserve Bank’s head of note issue Michael Anderson told AM the aim was to beat counterfeiters at their own game.
“We have a group of scientists that work in the Reserve Bank and they’re very familiar with the techniques used by counterfeiters,” Mr Anderson said.
The Reserve Bank’s assistant governor (business services) Michele Bullock described the $5 launch as “fun and exciting” — two words not normally associated with the Reserve Bank.
“The security features on it lend themselves to people tilting banknotes looking for things they can’t necessarily see.
“We led the world in plastic banknotes. We are now leading the world in the design and technology in the way we’ve integrated the security features into this banknote.”
But no need to worry if you are carrying one of the older $5 notes — the Reserve Bank says are still worth the plastic they are written on.
“The $5 bank notes we have are perfectly secure against counterfeiting and they are still legal tender in all shops,” Ms Bullock said.
The Reserve Bank has not revealed the cost of replacing the 170 million $5 bills in current circulation, saying it is a “commercial in confidence” matter for Note Printing Australia.
However, taxpayers will pay $37 million for research, development and public awareness of the upgrade of all denominations over the next 12 years.
The current $10 bank note will be upgraded with new security features in about a year.