Product Owner: The Reserve Bank of Australia
Issuer and Denominations
Reserve Bank of Australia
Next Generation Banknote $50
The new $50 banknote was issued in October 2018, marking a milestone in the upgrade of Australia’s banknotes and enhancing the RBA’s reputation as a world innovator in banknote design and technology. The $50 is the most widely circulated banknote, accounting for nearly half of the total value of banknotes in use, and it is the denomination primarily used in ATMs.
The new $50 retains key aspects from Australia’s first polymer series: the colour palette, size, and the people and theme portrayed. This ensures that the public’s familiarity with the banknote is maintained and helps emphasise that the purpose of the upgrade is to increase security. The new $50 has innovative security features, integrated with a refined design adaptation that results in a sophisticated and attractive final product.
The new $50 was developed with extensive consultation with subject matter experts. These ranged from exploring practical and logistical considerations with machine manufacturers and commercial banks, to historical and cultural experts, ornithologists and botanists, who provided guidance on the individuals and imagery portrayed. People with vision impairment were also consulted to ensure the tactile feature met the needs of that community.
As a result of this careful development process, the new $50 has been met with widespread acclaim and has been well received by stakeholders and the public.
New feature (s) or technical innovation
The new $50 banknote incorporates a range of dynamic security features innovatively integrated with one another to create secondary effects, and blend seamlessly with design features. Successfully maximising the effectiveness of the limited space was one of the many design challenges achieved to create the innovative new $50 banknote.
The foil design is composed of four distinct graphic elements interwoven with microtext and flora elements.
• A top-to-bottom clear window – a world first in banknote design – that contains a number of dynamic diffractive foil elements which are visible on both sides of the banknote and change when the banknote is tilted: the bird appears to lift its wings and fly; the book appears in 3D and the numeral 50 in the building changes direction.
• A SPARK patch is printed over a window in the shape of a black swan, which means the rolling colour effect can be seen from both sides. This is further integrated with a shadow image of the bird’s body.
• Other security features include a transitory embossed feature in a third window, microprint (excerpts from Unaipon’s Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines and text from Edith Cowan’s first speech to Western Australian Parliament) in multiple locations, and UV and phosphorescent elements, including the serial number.
In addition to the design and security features outlined above, the new series has a unique embossed tactile feature to help the vision-impaired community distinguish between different denominations of banknotes. On the new $50 banknote, this is four raised bumps on each of the long edges of the banknote.
Integration of features and design
Historical or local content
The signature block side of the $50 banknote features David Unaipon, a Ngarrindjeri man from the Lower Murray in South Australia who made significant contributions to science, literature and improvements in conditions for Aboriginal people. Features that reflect on his identity and achievements include the miwi image and Ngarrindjeri shields to the right of the portrait. Miwi is connected to the practice of navel cord exchange, known as Nhung e umpie (ngia-ngiampe), which traditionally established bonds between nations and peoples.
The serial number side of the note features Edith Cowan who became the first female member of an Australian parliament when she was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in 1921. A lifelong crusader for the rights of women, children and migrants, she helped found the Women’s Service Guild and the Children’s Protection Society and served as a magistrate in the Children’s Court.
Integration of features and design
The new $50 banknote innovatively integrates dynamic security features with cultural and symbolic design features. For example:
• The Black Swan appears in numerous locations on the banknote as part of security feature designs – this can been seen in the flying bird, colourful bird, rolling colour effect, and fluorescent ink patch. This bird was Unaipon’s ngatji, or totem, and is the state bird of Western Australia where Edith Cowan is from.
• The Reversing 50 security feature uses the design of Raukkan church in South Australia, where Unaipon was an organist and lay preacher.
• The microtext features excerpts from Unaipon’s Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines and text from Edith Cowan’s first speech to Western Australian Parliament
• An abstract design of the wattle species Acacia humifusa is used to border the top-to-bottom window, forms the edge of embossed small window, and appears in the fluorescent ink patch.