Making Cash Even More Secure With New Technologies

Digitalization is clearly noticeable in all areas of life and business. Boosted by the increasing importance of online trade, new, digital solutions continue to grow steadily as a means of payment. Cashless payment is becoming increasingly important and yet the significance of banknotes remains unchanged. Cash offers incomparable freedom and independence - to anyone, anytime, anywhere. It ensures the financial participation of all people in our society, because a purely cashless system would exclude and disadvantage those who do not have access to electronic payments. In addition to its function as a means of payment, cash also serves as a store of value. To optimise and actively shape the link between analogue and digital payment transactions, Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions has developed a mobile application that can be used to check the authenticity of banknotes.

Technology & Innovation
Read time: approx. 3 minutes

Rapid technological development has opened up new opportunities in many areas of the printing industry. Koenig & Bauer has recognised the potential of linking the analogue and digital worlds and created a new segment within the company. The aim is to find new solutions to accompany and help shape technological progress and thus secure the future of cash. A first fruitful step in this area is the development of a new app that will make the use of cash even safer and add more functions. The technology will be used to authenticate cash in the beginning, but can easily be adapted to tax stamps, brand protection or other applications containing high security printing processes like intaglio (raised) print.

Authentication in seconds

We all face situations in our life where we wonder if the banknote we received is a genuine or a counterfeit. For example, when selling your furniture on the internet and the buyer gives you cash when coming to take the item. How sure are you that this is a real banknote? An unpleasant situation that, in the worst case, can mean a considerable financial loss. With the new ValiCash™ app from Koenig & Bauer, the authenticity of banknotes - depending on the smartphone model - can be verified in less than a second. The app features a sophisticated system based on the structural analysis of intaglio print and, more generally, checks the specific optical features of high-security printing processes, such as holograms and screen-printing features.

In the first phase of the market launch, the app is available in the Apple Store and can authenticate all euro banknotes. In the next step, the ValiCash™ app will be usable on more devices and the scope of verifiable currency units will also be expanded. It is particularly important that the authenticity check works for all euro banknotes - even for those of the first generation that are already in circulation.

The app recognises the denomination being scanned. If the input image is not good enough, the app displays a ‘Try again’ message and guides the user on how to improve the capturing process (eg. flatten the note or keep the phone steady). If the app displays ‘Fail’, the app reverts to a ‘manual’ mode, putting up European Central Bank (ECB) security feature information to allow people to make their own decisions.

The technology is designed to work for notes that are consistent with the ECB soiled note standards. 

Intaglio is a traditional and highly secured security feature - and counterfeits with “real intaglio” on it have not yet appeared in the cash cycle of the European union. Therefore, it is the perfect feature for machine-readable without modifying or hiding special features in the design or using special inks. That means it can be used for notes in circulation.

Bad times for counterfeit money

Thanks to the continuous development of security procedures in the field of banknote printing, the number of counterfeit euro banknotes has been steadily decreasing until today. A great success was achieved with the second generation, the so-called Europa series. The increasingly complex security features were successively introduced for all denominations from 2013 to 2019, starting with the five-euro notes. 

Despite increasing security procedures, many fraudsters still do not shy away from counterfeiting banknotes. Counterfeit money must in any case be handed over to a police station or bank when discovered. The bitter thing is that if you have not recognised the fraud immediately and refused to accept it, you are left with the loss, because counterfeit money is not replaced. To avoid this, there are various ways of checking a banknote for authenticity.

Play it safe

Are you wondering if we have the ability to recognise ourselves whether banknotes are genuine or counterfeit? This requires some knowledge and for example by touching the banknote, which can be, printed on different substrate with dedicated security features such as Intaglio with Tactile Marks feature, displaying the banknote against daylight to see specific security features and finally moving the banknote to see the effects of certain security features that are impossible to reproduce.

The more complicated and elaborate the design and printing of the banknotes, the more securely cash is protected against counterfeiting. Therefore, it is more complicated to check the banknotes’ authenticity in everyday life. With the ValiCash™ app, you can save yourself the checking work and a lot of time and get a secure result in a few seconds with just one click.