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Successful Introduction of New $20 Note Deemed Critical

Thursday, October 1, 1998

Although the redesigned $50 note and $100 note were introduced seamlessly over the past two years, public interest was mild because many financial institution customers don't see these larger denomination bills day to day. The latest currency to receive a face-lift, however, —the $20 note—will have the greatest impact yet on the public.

The $20 note is the most frequently used of the larger denomination notes and is commonly distributed through automated teller machines. In addition, it is the second most widely circulated bill in existence (after the $1 bill). The new notes will be rolled out beginning Thursday, Sept. 24. Just as was the case with both the $50 and $100 notes, the Federal Reserve Banks gradually will replace old $20 notes with the new ones as they wear out.

John Baumgartner, vice president of Wholesale and Cash Operations with the St. Louis Fed, said a successful phase-in of the new $20 notes is important for security reasons.

"When we introduce these notes, much of the public will be seeing the anti-counterfeit features for the first time," he said.

These features will be familiar to bankers because they are the same ones included on both the $50 and $100 notes, with some slight variations. Like the other bills, the portrait on the $20 note (President Andrew Jackson) is larger, moved off center and incorporates more detail. Other similar security aspects include a watermark, fine-line printing and color-shifting ink. Unlike the $50 note, the thread position on the $20 note is to the far left of the portrait instead of the right and glows green under ultraviolet light instead of the yellow color seen on the $50 note. Also, the microprinting on the $20 note is located in different places than on the other redesigned notes.

As the distributor of currency to financial institutions, the Federal Reserve has been working with the Secret Service to educate bankers, retailers and others on the redesigned note. Currently, Federal Reserve Banks and branches nationwide are holding seminars for bankers to explain the alterations to the currency. In May, the Fed mailed information packets on the redesigned notes to all financial institutions.

Baumgartner said it is critical that the public be well educated on the new currency so that a successful rollout of the $20 note will have a domino effect when it is time for the rest of the currency to be redesigned.

"The ripple effect will be that the denominations to follow will be more widely accepted and understood," he said.

As for the introduction of those other redesigned denominations, the $10 note is scheduled to be rolled out next year, and the $5 note in 2000.