Remarks by the Governor, Dr. Karnit Flug
The launch of the new banknote is without a doubt a special and festive event for the Bank of Israel, the State and the public. We gathered here today to announce to the citizens of Israel that they can expect the new NIS 200 banknote—a blue banknote bearing the portrait of poet Nathan Alterman—soon. The NIS 200 banknote joins the first of the new series—the NIS 50 banknote, bearing the portrait of Shaul Tchernichovsky, which was launched in September 2014. Notice of the launch date of the following two banknotes in the series, which are currently in preparation and production stages, will be forthcoming.
The NIS 200 banknote will be launched to the public next Wednesday, December 23, 2015 (11 Tevet 5776), and will gradually be put into circulation as was done with the NIS 50 banknote.
In view of technological developments over the years, and in view of the need to protect the currency against counterfeits, the Bank of Israel prepared to protect the banknotes and make them more resilient to counterfeits. This is the main reason for replacing the series of banknotes in general, and the NIS 200 banknote in particular, since this is the banknote with the highest denomination value and with the largest number of banknotes in circulation.
Adjusting the banknote standards to meet the challenges of the coming years is a complex and sensitive task that is entrusted to the Currency Department at the Bank of Israel. The fact that most of the public is confident in the trustworthiness of the banknotes in circulation is not always self-evident. As the central bank, we are entrusted with the responsibility to make sure that Israeli citizens’ confidence that the banknotes they hold are trustworthy is maintained. As such, we must plan, design and issue banknotes that are usable, durable, and secure against counterfeiting. That is why, roughly every 15 years, the Bank of Israel replaces the series of banknotes with a new and more advanced series, representing high standards of security, innovation and accessibility. Moreover, we make concerted efforts to make sure that the banknotes and coins in Israel are also easy to use for the blind and vision impaired—a large and important population group. I am proud that the new series of banknotes was planned and produced with designated solutions for the blind and vision impaired.
The NIS 200 banknote, as with the other banknotes in the new series, incorporates prominent security features among the most advanced of their kind, which make it very difficult for criminals to counterfeit them, while making it very easy for the public to discern them. We call on the public to get to know the security features, particularly in the coming period following the launch of the banknote, and to make use of them:
See the banknote, touch the banknote, tilt it.
The security features can be easily identified by the public. Particularly with the NIS 200 banknote, due to its high value, it is very important to examine them. That is the message that we want to convey today to the general public, through the media and through a public information campaign that is accessible in five languages. The public information campaign accompanying the launch of the banknote focuses on the title “Secure by Design”, in order to emphasize the importance of the public examining the security features.
Before I conclude, I would like to emphasize that the Bank of Israel encourages, and continues to promote, the development of advanced electronic means of payment. Obviously, this does not take away from the importance of the banknotes and coins as a main means of payment in the hands of the public, either in Israel or around the world.
I would like to thank the Hon. Judge Jacob Turkel, who serves as Chair of the Public Committee for the Planning of Banknotes, Coins and Commemorative Coins, the banknotes’ designer Ms. Osnat Eshel, and all those who took part in the work. Special thanks to the Director General of the Bank of Israel, and to the Currency Department, for leading the project.
Remarks by the Director General, Mr. Hezi Kalo
In September 2014, we launched the new NIS 50 banknote, and today we are proud to launch the second banknote in the new series, the NIS 200 banknote bearing the portrait of Nathan Alterman.
This is a major milestone in the process of replacing the banknote series, which began last year, particularly in light of the fact that the NIS 200 denomination is the most common one in circulation, and there are 250 million such items (that is, banknotes) in circulation.
From the perspective of the Bank of Israel, the Currency Department, and the entire currency system, this has great importance, both in the terms of issuing and printing the banknotes and in terms of the process of distributing the banknotes and replacing them in circulation–a large quantity needs to be exchanged.
The NIS 200 banknote is distinct from the NIS 50 banknote not only in its design, in the portrait of Alterman and in its blue color, but also in its size. The length of the NIS 200 banknote is 150 mm, compared with 136 mm for the NIS 50 banknote. This is in order to make it easier for the blind and vision impaired. In addition, there are 4 pairs of tactile lines on the margins, for use by those with vision impairments.
As noted, this is an additional major milestone in one of the most significant and complex projects taken on by the Bank of Israel in recent years. I merited to be a part in the process of launching the new series, which included several major stages—beginning with the approval by the government in 2011 of the figures whose portraits appear on the notes, through the public design competition that was held that same year, approval by the Supervisory Council and the government of the figures and final design in 2013, to the operative stages of planning the banknote, its specification, design, and production—an especially intricate and complex process that takes several years, not only in Israel but also in other advanced economies.
As Director General of the Bank, I supported and worked to promote this important project from its outset, alongside previous Governor Stanley Fischer and Governor Flug, with the guiding principle being to continuously maintain the security of the currency and protect it from counterfeits over time. The concern over counterfeit banknotes exists worldwide, and is not unique to Israel. Due to the fact that advanced central banks, including the Bank of Israel, work to update in advance the security features incorporated into the banknotes, we are not facing a significant risk today to the security of the currency.
We are aware that the launch of the new banknote is a change that requires some getting used to by the public. This is why we chose a gradual process of natural replacement of the banknotes, along with a broad professional information campaign via a range of media and languages. This means that the public is not required at this stage to rush to replace the banknotes in its possession. The replacement will take place at a controlled pace by the Bank of Israel in coordination with the banking system and the Postal Company.
The NIS 200 banknotes from Series B, which bear the portrait of former President Zalman Shazar, remain in circulation for now, and their quantity will decline gradually until the replacement process is completed.
We also worked this way with the launch of the NIS 50 into circulation, and to date most of the banknotes in that denomination from the previous series have been exchanged.
It is important to emphasize that the current series of banknotes, which is in circulation, is safe for use. At a later stage, the Currency Department will notify the public of the date on which the banknotes of the current series (Series B) will cease to be legal tender, and we will also set the length of the period for exchanging the banknotes, which will certainly not be less than 10 years, as it was with the exchange of the previous series of banknotes.
There is always a concern that criminal elements will take advantage of the timing of the entry of the new banknote into circulation and the public’s incomplete recognition with the new banknote in order to attempt and distribute photos or reproductions of the banknotes, produced through color printers or copiers. The public can easily protect itself from such illegitimate activity by checking the security features incorporated into the banknotes. The banknotes in the new series and the security features incorporated into them have been exceptionally highly regarded and acclaimed at professional international conferences on banknotes and protection against counterfeiting.
It is important to emphasize that the security features are intended for the general public, and were planned that way—one does not need to be an expert on banknotes in order to verify that they genuine. It is enough to look for a moment at the golden book, the glittering stripe, or the watermark, to feel the raised ink, or to see the menorah symbol when tilting the banknote. We call to the public’s attention the prominent security features—secure by design.
The public is invited to learn about the new banknote at the Bank of Israel’s website, or via the mobile application, or through the information brochures and media advertisements. When needed, you can also call the telephone hotline with any question that arises.
I would like to thank the professional department—the Currency Department—which led this important project from its beginning with considerable responsibility and professionalism, and I have no doubt that the Department will continue to lead it successfully to its completion.