Nominating Organziation Name and role, if any, in the Project:

South Africa Reserve Bank

Product, Feature or Process Owner/s

South African Reserve Bank

Product, Feature or Process Owner Release Date (Date made available to public)


Project Description

t has been 12 years since the Mandela series of banknotes was first issued. In May 2023, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) launched the upgraded Mandela banknote series. The project aimed to improve the security of the banknotes by taking advantage of advanced technology and incorporating state-of-the-art security features to reinforce confidence and trust in South Africa’s banknotes and ensure that they remain one of the safest currencies in the world.

Furthermore, the project also focused on improving efficiencies at the printing factory, a wholly owned subsidiary of the SARB, the South African Banknote Company. A value engineering approach was adopted to ensure that the cash value chain continues operating efficiently.

Improvement of the Banknote or Printing Process

The design incorporates the Big Five animals unique per denomination, African patterns, and the face value to create additional level 1 and 2 security features that strengthen the banknotes’ resilience to counterfeiting and make them more easily recognised by the public. Each Big Five animal, unique per denomination, is depicted in many areas of the banknote, such as the see-through perfect registration feature, design linework, RollingStar® security thread, and SparkLive® Truspin.
Using the Big Five animal, unique per denomination on the RollingStar® security thread, combined with a distinctive wave effect, prohibits security thread harvesting as the security thread will not match the denomination’s theme.

The SparkLive® Truspin also features the Big Five animal unique per domination, which moves with the security thread as the banknote is tilted, making counterfeiting more difficult. In this way, the members of the public have a unique and simpler process of authenticating banknotes using familiar elements.
Moreover, by modifying and removing some of the previous series’ design elements that contributed to production waste, the value engineering approach enabled the SABN to increase efficiencies and improve the product’s quality.

Innovation and Unique aspects

The banknotes offer members of the public a novel and unique method of authenticating banknotes using elements from South Africa’s rich heritage, such as the Big Five animals, the national flag, the preamble to the constitution and distinctive patterns. This new, innovative, modern, unique and easy-to-remember authenticating technique strengthens the banknotes by adding additional level 1 and 2 security features that are difficult to counterfeit. As a result, the members of the public do not struggle to authenticate the banknotes simply because they look for familiar elements closer to their hearts throughout the banknote.

A captivating design featuring a herd of micro Big Five animal (unique to a denomination, e.g. rhino for R10) intricately arranged, each animal mirrors the others, creating a mesmerizing background Litho pattern. However, one animal stands out, intentionally designed to be distinct with its hindleg lifted and foreleg, serving a unique mark and as an additional form of authentication. The design also has an inverted flag. These additional features can be utilised for forensic analysis to confirm the banknote’s authenticity.

In honour of human dignity, equality and advancements of human rights and freedom, central to South Africa’s constitution, the preamble has been incorporated in micro lettering on the front of all denominations in a unique, artistic, and concentric circular manner in different font sizes. The inclusion of the pre-amble in micro text aims to inspire members of the public to examine their banknotes with their naked eye or using a magnifying glass, encouraging them to view their banknotes not only as a means of payment but as an instrument of engagement. A counterfeiter would not be able to produce legible micro text similar to those produced through intaglio printing. The micro text is also featured around the watermark area, making it difficult to produce a counterfeit.

Environmental Impact

The reduction in the use of intaglio inks makes a substantial environmental contribution by minimizing the carbon footprint associated with banknote production. Additionally, a conscious decision was made to retain the cotton substrate, which may be repurposed or recycled at the end of life. These efforts support the SARB’s goal of promoting a circular economy and reducing waste. Moreover, no materials or compositions reasonably known in the industry to be dangerous to humans and/or the environment were used during manufacturing. Furthermore, using varnish increases the longevity of the banknotes, reducing the need to produce new banknotes often. The SARB is researching alternate methods of disposing of banknote waste to reduce its environmental impact further and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Image of the new feature shown on at least one issued banknote or an image of the new product

Categories: Technical Awards 2024
Tags: Best New Banknote Feature Product or Process