Fake banknotes can look so real that one may have trouble spotting the difference between genuine and counterfeit ones, especially if you are not familiar with the security features on the notes. Criminals who attempt to forge banknotes are aware of this fact and take advantage of innocent cash users, especially during busy times like the festive season, when everyone is in a rush and has no time to scrutinize notes as they change hands during transactions.
By definition, fake or counterfeit money is imitation currency produced without the legal sanction of the state or government. Producing or using counterfeit money is a form of fraud or forgery and is probably as old as money itself.
It is quite simple to tell if a banknote is real or fake. By following these three basic steps you should be good to go this festive season and beyond.
Look: When you hold the banknote you should see the following:
1. Security thread – on the front of the banknote is a metallic-looking broken strip positioned vertically, close to the centre of the banknote. When you turn the banknote to the back side, this strip looks full without the broken strip on the front.
2. Watermark – when you hold up the banknote against light, you will see a watermark, showing a portrait of His Majesty King Mswati III, with a highlighted necklace.
3. Serial Number – Every banknote is identified with two identical unique serial numbers.
4. See through register – if having the old green E200, hold it up to the light to observe how the front and back patterns result in the denomination value of the note on the see through register.
Feel: When you touch the banknote, you should feel the following:
5. Raised printing – as you move your hand over the intaglio engraved portrait of His Majesty King Mswati III wearing ligcebesha, you will feel a rough like raised texture on the necklace, feathers and hair.
6. Visually impaired mark – when you run your fingers over 5 (see numbered illustration below), you will feel a rough like raised texture, meant for people with visual impairment to identify the denomination value of the note.
7. Raised printing: as you run your fingers over the note denomination, you will feel a rough like raised texture.
Tilt: When you tilt and turn the banknote you should see the following:
8. Tactile latent image – tilt and turn the note to observe the colour shift effects (changes) on the security thread on the E50, E100 and E200. The colour does not change on the E10 and E20.
9. Window – when holding the banknote to the light, you will see a transparent laser cut plastic like window featuring the lion’s silhouette, clearly visible from both sides of the banknote.
10. Shield – The parts of the shield change colours, from green to blue and from copper to green when the banknote is tilted.
Why You Should Care!
Counterfeit notes are a serious menace to society, Central Banks and banknote printers globally. It is a criminal offence to be caught in the possession of or transacting with counterfeit notes. Moreover, Counterfeit money presents ill-effects on society because it
reduces the value of real money; and increases prices (inflation) due to more money getting circulated in the economy. It also presents an unauthorized artificial increase in the money supply; a decrease in the acceptability act of paper money; and losses, when traders are not reimbursed for counterfeit money detected by banks, when it is confiscated.
The role of most Central Banks is to ensure that there is adequate supply of quality banknotes in circulation in their countries. Likewise, the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) invests resources in ensuring that our Emalangeni banknotes have ‘hard – to – fake’ security features. This also applies to the Reserve Bank of South Africa, which has a similar role for the Rand which is
also legal tender in Eswatini. Both countries have held educational roadshows, and training for cash handlers, to raise awareness on the
security features and decrease the number of forged notes accepted by the public, retailers, banks and other business dealing with cash.
The responsibility of cash handlers to know and understand these security features cannot be overemphasized. If you are aware of security features on the notes, you can better protect yourself from accepting forged notes. It is also the duty of central banks to invest in the design of highly secure features which will be easy and basic for cash users to understand and detect. You therefore do not always need a fluorescent light machine to detect if you are carrying a genuine note or not. This is also because these features are very easy to identify. So yours is to LOOK, FEEL, and TILT the note – a basic 3 step method that cash handlers who deal with non-bulk
transactions can use. Even though this method is easier to quickly follow when dealing with nonbulk payments, we advise bulk cash handlers to make use of fluorescent light machines to validate the authenticity of banknotes. The CBE has invested in an App – the Lilangeni App to raise awareness on the security features of our banknotes. To download the app, visit Google Playstore for Android phones and Appstore IOS phones.
The Bank also invested in a tool that assists visually impaired persons, in identifying banknote denominations through the use of a card. This card can be collected from DPM’s office or the CBE Communications Office for free.