South African Reserve Bank Currency Mobile App

Program Owner: The South African Reserve Bank 


In July 2018, The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) launched the commemorative banknotes series and a R5 commemorative circulation coin in celebration of the birth centenary of the first democratically elected President of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (Madiba). Alongside the release of the commemorative banknotes and coin, a SARB Currency Mobile App was developed and launched.

The purpose of the technology is to drive awareness and education on the various features of the South African banknotes, demonstrating the design, security, technical and quality elements. The mobile app was designed on the principle of simplicity. It has three key sections, namely ‘Learn and Experience’, ‘Watch’ and ‘Play’. Although each section is different in purpose and outcome, they are all intended to be educational and interactive.

Date of project launch


Countr(ies) where implemented

South Africa and accesible worldwide via Apple App Store (iOS) and Google Play Store (Android).

Ease of use

A number of aspects were considered in building the mobile app within the context of South Africa. These factors included: the level of smartphone penetration, prevalent technology platforms, data affordability and communication best practises.

From a user interface perspective, the fundamental design principles were based on the following:

  1. Consistent look and feel across all the screens and key sections within the app;
  2. Shallow and easy to follow app navigation; and
  3. Visually appealing interface with a clean and simple colour pallet similar to the corporate identity of the South African Reserve Bank


A salient feature of the mobile app is the ‘Augmented Reality’ functionality. When a banknote is scanned using the camera of a smartphone, the banknote features ‘pop up’ virtually, with animation and sound. Although in two dimensions, the user experience remains the same when the banknote is rotated.

When the back of a commemorative banknote is scanned, the chronological events throughout Madiba’s life – from his time of birth in Mvezo, to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president – are shown.

Another key feature is the short videos embedded in the app, showing the features of the banknotes that require ‘movement’ or ‘tilting’ of the substrate. These fluid features include the colour-changing security thread, the batik design on the front of the banknote numeral, as well as the sound made when a banknote is snapped between the fingers.

Promotes image or function

The purpose of the mobile app is to drive awareness and education on the various features of the South African banknotes, demonstrating the design, security, technical and quality elements.

Given the varience in smartphone penetration rates in the country, SARB also launched a website and booklet to allow for the broadest reach and accessebilty. All channels present consistent material coverage for reliable messaging.

In South Africa, the major mobile platforms are iOs and Andriod, and the mobile app is available for download on the Apple Store and the Google Play Store respectively. The most widely used web browsers are the Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, and the website is functional on these platforms.

Relative to countries similar to South Africa, data is costly, thus the mobile app was designed to be mostly an ‘Offline Experience’ with video content hosted virtually, thereby reducing the reliance on data.



Awards | Currency Awards 2019


Best Banknote Public Education Program or Website or App


Finalist | Winner