Financial and Monetary Systems

Which country has the best banknote?

Reserve Bank of New Zealand dollar notes are pictured. Image: REUTERS/Dennis Owen

Emma Luxton
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The greenback may rule global markets, but when it comes to more aesthetic considerations, the currency of New Zealand is king.

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) has announced the results of the "Banknote of the Year Award 2015". The “clear winner” was New Zealand’s new $5 note, which beat almost 40 other designs from 20 countries to fuse arresting images with security features.

Described as “stunning” by the IBNS, the orange and brown note features New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Mount Cook (Aoraki) on the South Island. The opposite side shows a colour changing yellow-eyed (hoiho) penguin. It also has a map of the country in a polymer window.

 New Zealand 5 dollar bank note
Image: International Bank Note Society

To be eligible for the awards, a banknote must have been issued for the first time during the year of the award, and be in general circulation.

The judges assess banknotes on their artistic merit and the imaginativeness of their design, as well as the security features included on the note.

In 2015, almost 150 new banknotes were release, of which almost 40 were eligible for nomination.

Other banknotes in the running for this year’s title included Sweden’s 20 kronor note, Russia’s 100 rouble note, Kazakhstan’s 20,000 tenge note and Scotland’s (Clydesdale Bank) £5 note.

 Sweden 20 Kronor bank note
Image: International Bank Note Society
 Scotland 5 Pound bank note
Image: International Bank Note Society

The winning banknote is part of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s new family of “Brighter Money”, which started with $5 and $10 notes and features updated security features.

New Zealand 5 dollar bank note
Image: International Bank Note Society

Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Geoff Bascand, said that the note incorporates “some of the world’s most advanced security features” but still showcases New Zealand’s history, culture and heritage.

Previous winners include Trinidad & Tobago’s $50 note (2014) and three of Kazakhstan’s banknotes, which took the title in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

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