A security twin pack
The Central Bank of Armenia issued three of six new denominations on November 22, 2018. The design of the new series was provided by the customer then elaborated and implemented by G+D. This new series introduces Hybrid™ banknote substrate to the Armenian cash cycle which results in significantly enhanced quality, efficiency, durability and security of the banknotes in circulation. An interview with Vitali Rabau, Regional Sales Director.
Mr Rabau, the new series of the Armenian dram was brought into circulation on November 22 – why now?
There are a two key reasons: First, this issuing of the first three denominations by the Central Bank of the Republic of Armenia marked the 25-year anniversary of the Armenian dram – which replaced the Russian ruble two years after independence on November 22, 1993. Since then, there have been many modifications made to individual notes, but the dram hasn’t changed significantly since 1999. So now is the perfect time to renew the national currency after 19 years of circulation. The second key motivation is to bring it fully up-to-date in terms of security and durability and align it with the population’s current payment and usage behavior. This is the right moment for something extraordinary!
And is the Hybrid™ banknote substrate extraordinary?
Yes, although it is not only that. The Central Bank of Armenia had been looking for a long-lasting and robust banknote substrate for a few years, because low-denomination notes in particular are subject to heavy stress in everyday use. Banknotes face additional pressures from the heat and damp of sometimes extreme climatic conditions in countries such as Armenia. But it’s also the case that the Central Bank wants to utilize and combine all the opportunities offered by an innovative, diverse, and long-lived security concept. The series brings together multiple security elements in a sophisticated design which incorporates the Galaxy® security thread, LaserCut™ window, and multitone watermarks that are rich in contrast.
What’s the significance of the 500-dram Armenian collectors’ note designed and produced by G+D?
It represents something really important. The 500-dram commemorative banknote is not only Armenia’s first collectors’ note, it also implements all the advantages of the Hybrid™ substrate, demonstrating the opportunities for harmonious integration of security features. It offers a perfect test for acceptance among the general population, as well as of the banknote’s performance. For example, a RollingStar® LEAD stripe with micromirrors has been used in addition to a Galaxy® thread. Moreover, the central motif of the note – Noah’s Ark – is utilized multiple times: As a watermark; as a motif in the LaserCut™ window, visible when light shines through it.
Is the Noah's Ark symbol also a reference to Armenia’s cultural identity?
Yes, for the front of the note we chose to show Etchmiadzin Cathedral, which has long been believed to be home to a fragment of Noah’s Ark, and in doing this we’re of course consciously and actively playing with a part of Armenian history. Last but not least, this commemorative banknote is the first Armenian denomination to be produced on the Hybrid™ substrate from Louisenthal. It represents an innovative, stable substrate with a multitude of the latest security features. In combining symbolism and innovation, we have used the Central Bank’s clear ideas and translated them into features, design, and technology, creating an impressive result.
With the Hybrid™ substrate at the heart of the project?
Certainly, in the truest sense of the word: The interior cotton core of the Hybrid™ substrate is surrounded by a polyester film, onto which is applied a special layer that accepts print. The outcome of combining cotton and polyester is that Hybrid™ banknotes bring together tried-and-tested security with a significantly longer lifecycle – the banknote does not become soiled as quickly, it takes longer to become floppy, better withstands extreme climates, and remains “fit” for a long time. At the same time, Hybrid™ banknotes have that familiar “touch and feel” of cotton banknotes, which is key for the general population’s acceptance of and trust in their currency. Cotton and Hybrid™ notes will be in circulation in Armenia from November 22, 2018. The comprehensive informational campaign by the Central Bank of Armenia, along with the properties of our Hybrid™ substrate, offer assurance that the general population will have no reservations about Hybrid™ notes’ authenticity when they are introduced.
And will the use of familiar and tried-and-tested security features help here?
It was important for us to guarantee efficient and practical transition from the familiar notes already in circulation to the new ones. That’s why the Central Bank is bringing proven reliable and well-known security features such as watermarks and threads into the new series, but at the same time is also able to work with advanced new features such as window solutions.
However, like the commemorative banknote, the new series also deliberately plays with the opportunities offered by the combination of security and design. Why is that?
Because these two features correlate closely with one another. Take the new 10,000-dram note as an example, which depicts Armenian priest, composer, singer and musicologist Komitas Vardapet. Here, we “double” the motif of the harp: Once as a SPARK feature at the bottom left on the front of the note, and once as a LaserCut™ window at the top right. The SPARK color shift is adapted to the color shift of our Galaxy® thread. In doing this we combine color shift with dynamic effects, whilst also attracting additional attention to the same motifs on both sides of the banknote, using intricate, transparent windows. This connectedness or synchronization between different security features is easy for the population to recognize in each of the six new notes, while also representing a tremendously high hurdle for counterfeiters.
So this banknote doesn’t simply tell a story, but also “translates it” into security features?
Yes. indeed. And we are simultaneously creating a link between the two sides of the note, by means of transparent security window. By use of the Galaxy® security threads, for in which micromirror technology creates dynamic motifs at various depths, we ensure an additional level of security. This integrated concept was developed for the whole series and was very well received by the Central Bank of Armenia – not least because it’s possible to implement this idea on every banknote using the appropriate symbolism and in the context of an overall story, even for the lower denominations.
And how does the idea pay off?
What’s extraordinary about our Hybrid™ banknote substrate is that it brings together the highest level of security with a significantly extended lifecycle. Notes experiencing high stress from diverse climatic conditions; signs of wear, particularly in the case of lower denominations that change hands frequently in everyday use; efficient fitness verification and authentication – all of these are sound reasons for the Central Bank of Armenia to invest in the Hybrid™ banknote substrate, and why the substrate soon pays off.
Central banks of medium-sized countries will compensate for the additional costs associated with Hybrid™ banknotes within just a few years, as these notes remain clean and functional in circulation for longer and so need to be reprinted less often.
Alongside purely financial considerations, G+D is able to offer and implement our expertise in design, security, and substrate from a single source. Both the Central Bank of Armenia and the teams involved in the project are highly satisfied and proud of the new series, which is ultimately the result of close collaboration based on partnership and trust.
Here is a brief overview of the new Armenia series
1. After a two-year transition period following independence for the Republic of Armenia, the official national currency was introduced on November 22, 1993 (denominations: 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 dram).
2. Between 2004 and 2005, the first Armenian banknotes were withdrawn from circulation and replaced or respectively supplemented with the second series of Armenian banknotes (denominations: 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 dram).
3. In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Armenian currency, the Central Bank of Armenia is issuing the third series of banknotes (denominations: 1,000, 2,000 (new denomination), 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 dram).