Beginning in fall 2003, Americans will have more colorful bills filling their wallets. The new bills, code-named Nexgen, are intended to deter counterfeiting, according to the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve.
The colored bills will initially be in denominations of $100, $50 and $20. The new bills will remain the same size and use similar portraits and historical images as current ones, but will include subtle background colors. The color itself is not an anti-counterfeiting device, but provides the opportunity to add additional features that will make fake bills more noticeable.
"We all want to stay ahead of the technology curve by working together to introduce security features that enhance securities of United States currency," according to Marc Connolly, special agent at the Secret Service.
The Nexgen series of currency will retain security features of existing federal notes, including watermarks, security threads that glow under ultraviolet light, micro-printing, and color-shifting ink that changes color when the bill is twisted.
The new security measures are needed to thwart home-grown counterfeiters taking advantage of inexpensive computer and desktop printing technology. "Because of advancements in technology, we'll have to redesign currency every 10 years," said Jim Hagedorn, spokesman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.