The infographic below shows the security features of the American dollar and how to distinguish the real from counterfeit ones.
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Benjamin Franklin used a printing machine and leaves to make distinctive raised patterns on the colonial notes in order to combat the problem of counterfeit money in America in 1739.
Nearly 300 years later, Benjamin Franklin still serves as the face of the $100 bill in the United States. It is protected by a variety of security measures, such as covert images, unique ink, obscured watermarks, and magnetic signatures.
Avery Koop and Mark Belan of Visual Capitalist have dissected a $100 bill to reveal the anatomy of American currency in the infographic below.
The Makeup of American Money
Real bills may be distinguished from counterfeit ones by six distinct characteristics.
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① Serial Numbers & EURion Constellation
The most basic form of security on an $100 bill is the serial number. Every bill has a unique number to record data on its production and keep track of how many individual bills are in circulation.
The EURion constellation is star-like grouping of yellow rings near the serial number. It is only detectable by imaging software.
② Color Changing Ink
This ink changes color at different angles thanks to small metallic flakes within the ink itself. The $100 bill, like all other paper bills in the U.S., has its value denoted in color changing ink on the bottom right-hand corner; unlike other bills, it also features a liberty bell image using the ink.
Microprinting allows for verifiable images that cannot be scanned by photocopiers or seen by the naked eye. The $100 bill has phrases like “USA 100” written invisibly in multiple places.
④ Intaglio Printing
Rather than regular ink pressed onto the paper, intaglio printing uses magnetic ink and every different bill value has a unique magnetic signature.
⑤ Security Threads & 3D Ribbons
The security thread is a clear, embedded, vertical thread running through the bill. It can only be seen under UV light, contains microprinted text specifying the bill’s value, and on each different bill value it glows a unique color.
Additionally, 3D ribbons are placed in the center of $100 bills with a pattern that slightly changes as it moves.
⑥ Paper, Fibers, & Watermarks
Because American money is made of cotton and linen, blue and red cloth fibers are woven into the material as another identifying feature. Finally, watermarks are found on most bills and can only be detected by light passing through the bill.
The Relevance of Cash
The total number of each paper bill physically in use in the United States is shown below:
It’s interesting to see that someone has several $500–$10,000 bills in their pockets. The Fed nevertheless accepts the originals of these bills that were once legally issued even if they are no longer issued.
Furthermore, there is fake money being exchanged in the American economy. Given that it is the most extensively used currency in the world, it is understandable why many people attempt to counterfeit American currency. The U.S. Department of Treasury estimates that there are now about $70 million worth of counterfeit currency in circulation in the nation.
Finally, it is only natural to wonder how many people still use cash.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 58% of individuals still use cash for some transactions, even though that percentage is declining.