Siegfried Otto

Induction Year: 2011

Siegfried Otto was an exceptional businessman and a visionary thinker with a strong will to succeed. He worked relentlessly to accomplish his goals for more than fifty years. Over this period, his ideas and decisions left an indelible mark on the evolution of modern payment systems.

His life’s work was devoted to revolutionizing and improving the security of cash-based and other payment systems. One of his most significant achievements was realizing his long-held vision, documented early on in his career, of creating machine-readable banknotes. His ideas gave rise to many innovations in this field, resulting in the development of machines capable of verifying the authenticity of banknotes, checks, and other payment documents at high speed and with outstanding reliability.

In retrospect, Siegfried Otto could be regarded as the founder of the modern banknote domain, comprising substrate manufacturing, printing, and banknote processing. Under his direction, Giesecke & Devrient eventually became one of the world’s leading companies in this area of technology.

Otto began paving the way for this back in the 1950s, when he collaborated closely with the printing ink specialist Albert Amon, and the pioneer of modern multicolor intaglio printing, Gualtiero Giori. Together, these three exceptional men revolutionized and perfected banknote-printing techniques. Through their joint work, the three innovators made it possible to print banknotes of unprecedented quality.

Siegfried Otto was quick to recognize that success in the banknote market depended not only on security printing techniques but also on security paper. He transformed G&D into a full-service provider that was no longer dependent on imported supplies of banknote paper.

Otto traced out the decisive first steps towards the mechanized processing of banknotes. Under his guidance, the company embarked on a broad program of relevant research and systematically implemented its results.

One major outcome was the development of machine-readable security features for use in the paper and printing of banknotes, checks, and other documents of monetary value. Another important area was sensors and machines for automated banknote processing and verification.

The results of this development work helped to significantly increase the security of banknotes in circulation and considerably improved the detection of counterfeits. The new automated systems also greatly enhanced the efficiency of banknote processing operations in central banks and improved the quality of circulating notes.

Siegfried Otto is internationally recognized as one of the industry’s leading entrepreneurs and the force behind many technical innovations that have been decisive in its growth.

His foresighted visions, which he brought to fruition with decades of dedicated support from many outstanding collaborators and colleagues, have been instrumental in creating widespread confidence in modern payment media that still exists today.

Mr. Otto was honored with the Bavarian Order of Merit, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle with the Ribbon of the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and he was appointed as Honorary Consul for Mexico.