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Canada's new 'funny money'

Paying with plastic took on new meaning this week when the Bank of Canada introduced its new polymer $100 bill.

By Giselle Smith Nov 18, 2011 7:19PM

The debate over paying with paper or plastic once referred to whether you were using cash or a credit card, but Canada's new plastic $100 bill -- soon to be followed by smaller denominations -- will limit your choices to plastic or plastic.

The polymer-blend bills have a number of advantages over the old paper-and-cotton ones. One key difference is that they are more difficult to counterfeit. And they won't disintegrate if you accidentally run them through the washing machine.

The plastic bills are more secure, more economical and better for the environment, according to the Bank of Canada. They also cost less to produce and last twice as long as paper money; the downside of the polymer notes is that they are more slippery and can't be folded, according to the BBC.

"These polymer notes don’t just celebrate innovation; they are themselves at the frontier of bank note technology," said Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada. "They were developed by a team of physicists, chemists, engineers and other experts from the Bank of Canada and from across the bank note industry."

The brown-tinted bills carry a portrait of Robert Borden, prime minister of Canada from 1911 to 1920, on one side and have two see-through windows. The smaller window is in the shape of a maple leaf and the larger one has small numbers and another image of Borden inside it. Another counterfeiting precaution is raised ink on some parts of the bill, according to the Los Angeles Times. A Bank of Canada-made video explains these security features in detail. Post continues below.

Perhaps because the new bill is a $100, and a lot of Canadians (like Americans) usually carry smaller bills, knowledgeable reactions to the new bill are few. Responses from readers of the Globe and Mail, range from pride in Canada's always "colourful" currency to concern about whether a plastic bill could be put into a wallet.

The answer to that question is yes. Describing the bills as "smooth [and] stretchy," The Canadian Press says the currency feels like "the celluloid film you used to load into your old-fashioned camera."

"If they're more durable, it's a great thing -- but it looks fake," pedestrian Paul Lemay told The Canadian Press, when stopped on the street in Montreal. "I don't know if I would use it. I would have to be clearly informed before using it."

The new Canadian $50 bill was unveiled in June and will be issued in March 2012, with plastic $20 bills entering circulation in late 2012 and $10 and $5 bills by the end of 2013.

Several other countries use polymer currency, including Australia, which switched in the 1980s, according to Time.

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Nov 21, 2011 11:51AM

Wow Crap Cannon. There is a whole lot of redneck hostility you have bottled up there.


You may remember the date 9/11. HUNDREDS of airplanes full of people flying in the USA were not allowed to land at US airports. Where did most of them get diverted to? CANADA. Airports and people across the country welcomed those flights and people with open arms and tried to make their stayover as comfortable as possible. There were airports like Gander Newfoundland that took in hundreds of people more than the total number of hotel beds avail in town and the townspeople took them in. This happened across this great country. Our money may be funny but this nation is known worldwide for its open friendliness.

Nov 19, 2011 5:50AM

Australia and New Zealand have had plastic polymer bills in circulation for over 20 years and 90% of the original bills are still in circulation.  While the U.S. is going backwards and being more energy wasteful by eliminating paper one-dollar bills and going with heavy metal coins, the rest of the world is transitioning to plastic. I read that the U.S. Treasury could save $100 million per year, but that would make too much common cents for our government.


The bills can be folded up in your wallet, they just spring back when you take them out.  They can't be ripped, torn or counterfeited.  They can survive washing machines, dishwashers, dry cleaned, oil and grease, make-up, resist ink, dyes and will even survive a zapping in the micro-wave.  OK, Uncle Sam, what 'ya waiting for?

Nov 19, 2011 9:16AM

my concern would be the dangers slippery unfoldable money would cause strippers...

Nov 19, 2011 6:38AM
Moment of honesty. Only one question will determine if America will ever use plastic money.:

Who has more lobbyist,money and the best " spin doctors" ? A. the paper lobbyist. B. the plastic  lobbyist. C. the E-cash lobbyist.
Nov 19, 2011 9:41AM
It is odd to me that so many people think that because it is new it has to be better!  100% cotton rag currency has served well for all these years.  Why is it that we think everything is better if it is made out of plastic.  I thought all of you modernists were trying to move us away from petroleum based products?
Nov 19, 2011 11:49AM
our congress isnt interested in saving money by printing plastic money and a good example is that our postal system lost $5 billion this year and congress keeps paying for studies but hasnt done anything that the studies tell them to do.  Even the head of the postal system has long asked for eliminating Saturday delivery which would save piles of money and that hasnt even been approved.  The super committee formed to cut waste has not done one single thing yet.  All they keep saying is whats in it for me!
Nov 19, 2011 7:01AM
The "paper" that U.S. currency is printed on really isn't paper at all.  It's made mostly of cotton.
Nov 21, 2011 12:31PM
Australia has used plastic bills for around ten or twelve years now, each denomination are a different color and size. Are supposed to be rip proof, water proof and more important, impossible to counterfeit. also they did away with the penny and one dollar bill, going to one dollar and two dollar coins
Nov 19, 2011 5:01AM
Cant believe how stupid some of these comments are
Australia has had plastic money since 1988 for 23 years! the population has adapted just fine.
No Increase in mugging able to be put in piggy banks, can fold in half
No increased size  still fits in wallets.
Plastic is recyclable although the Notes are expensive to produce they last 4 times as long.

Nov 21, 2011 2:32PM

If we recalled all $100 bi;;s to be replaced with plastic... it would almost pay for the national debt.




Becaasue of all the hidden drug money and mideast corruption money and etc... hidden from the IRS and the American taxpayers..

That money would now be worthless as it could not be exchanged... at least not without a heavy laundering discount.


 I am sure there is at least 2 Trillion $ of this stuff out there.



Nov 21, 2011 4:37AM
Crap Cannon
  wow, you should be proud of your self... you really put them canadians in their me you definately contribute to the economy here in the states.... i can't imagine how many wrong bills you have handed over in your drunk stupor while you fumble over your pile of ingeniously marked US bills at the **** strip bar that you frequent..i'm sure anything that doesn't fit into your tiny mind should be attacked with your good ol' American **** whoopin' attitude... lets show them how to do things right!  You are a joke, go back to your x-box and budweiser and the memory of those days on the high school football team when you actually believed you made a difference..
Nov 19, 2011 8:51AM
If you washed a bill in your laundry and it disintegrated, then it was counterfeitThumbs down.
Nov 21, 2011 11:30AM
Oh, well!  The supplier of the currency "paper" to the US Mint will get their high-paid lobbyist to kill off that change here in the USA.
Nov 19, 2011 11:40AM
This way the money can actually bounce
Nov 19, 2011 9:53AM
What's the big fuss about plastic money. Here in Hong Kong (the special administrative region of China), we have been using plastic money the HK$10 bill since 1997!!!
Nov 21, 2011 6:42PM
This goes out to the uneducated and ignorant.  Plastic bills are cost effective in that they last longer than paper money.  This translates to less tax payer dollars.  To answer a few comments as to why anyone would want to counterfeit a Canadian bill rather than a Euro or US bill, because it is worth less...the US dollar is now worth less than the Canadian dollar, and has been for quite some time.  The main reason the US is so behind in their currency reform is largely due to the cotton farming lobbyists who risk a huge loss if and when the USA inevitably changes to plastic bills and coins for their lower bills.  Oh, and the best is how laughable it is that some people are saying that Canadians should keep their money out of the US and only us USA dollars.  Does that mean you don't want Canada's oil either?  Seriously people, what is with the contempt of Canada?  Every article that mentions Canada gets blasted by ignorant haters.  I am an American that is very grateful of Canada's oil, ore, minerals, timber etc...since we don't have any anymore.

Nov 19, 2011 10:19AM

 Giselle Smith - "they won't disintegrate if you accidentally run them through the washing machine"

...then comes the clothes dryer, we'll see!


Nov 19, 2011 11:58AM
I suppose the polymer is washable, too, which is a boon for germ-phobes as well as drug dealers.  Gives a new meaning to "money laundering".
Nov 19, 2011 9:52AM
Don't worry about the strippers waffle house we toss loonies and toonies ($1 and $2 coins) at them
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