The History of Polymer or plastic money is closely related to the 20th Century's fight against the counterfeiting of paper money which has continued to grow all over the world at very alarming rates.
Take some figures from the UK for example in1995 the Cooperative Retail Society reportedly lost £11,925 to counterfeit currency, it was small change compared to the total cash turnover but the alarming point to note is that this was 20% up from the previous years figures. Post Office Counters Ltd lost £1.2 million in the 94/95 financial year. The NCIS ( National Criminal Intelligence Service) keeps a record of all monies intercepted by the police and banks in general, and their figures add up to £11.8M (British Pound Sterling) and $5.5 (USA Dollars) were intercepted before they got into circulation and a further £15.4M of currency was discovered in circulation. Wow! This is huge and this was just the figures of 1994/95 financial year. Its even worse now.
In 2002 a gang was put out of business in Poland, they were believed to have made and then put into circulation a million Euro notes, the frightening thing is that these figures are continuously growing. Only a couple of months ago in Scotland a popular counterfeiter, Thomas McAnea, whose nickname is "Hologram Tam" was put out of operation, he was running his dark fake empire from a pretentious printing works.
So with all this damaging counterfeiting going on it is no suprise that some countries like Australia especially, has taken matters in their hands and come up with a superior currency material which is technically difficult to copy. Polymer plastic.
Polymer is a much more durable material, technologically advanced and difficult to replicate at least for now. Paper on the other hand is easier to duplicate with all the high tech photocopiers available for public consumption, counterfeiting currency couldn't be more easier.
Another alarming point to note is that there are so many websites telling people how to make fake currency. Is this a joke or what? The web needs to be seriously regulated . I believe in freedom and freedom of speech there is also a place for not allowing our freedom to cloud our better judgment of what is right from what is wrong. I don't want this to turn into a political statement but really a word is sufficient for the wise. The amount of information about things that should not be out there is causing a lot of problems and hopefully the authorities are taking serious note and going to take action to rectify this situation.
Apart from the problem of easily being able to replicate paper money,there is also the fact that the material is not very durable. In some countries the state of the currency in circulation is at best not so good and at worse could be very appalling. Plastic money or polymer again solves this problem and in the next few days we will explore this new breed of banknotes that is slowly but surely becoming much more accepted as the preferred material for currency.