Thursday, October 9, 2003

It still spends just like green

New $20 bill debuts today

By Jeff McKinney
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Richard Joesting shows new $20 notes. Behind him is about $500 million of the new bills.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
A new, colorful $20 bill designed to thwart counterfeiters makes its debut today in Cincinnati and across the nation.

Tinged with blue, green, peach, yellow and gold, the U.S. Treasury hopes the makeover - the second in recent years for the bill that features Andrew Jackson - will create little confusion for citizens and merchants.

Consumers and businesses should start seeing the bills pop up at bank branches or dispensed at automated-teller machines between now and Monday as the new money makes its way into commerce from the vaults of the Federal Reserve branches. Cincinnati is a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Richard Joesting, cash manager for the Fed in the Queen City, was amazingly nonchalant about standing next to about a half-billion dollars stacked on 31 pallets - "give or take a hundred million," Joesting said. For Joesting, it's all in another day's work at the Fed.

"It's just paper," he said. "If it's not yours, it does not mean a lot."

• The Federal Reserve expects to distribute 1 billion of the new $20 bills nationwide this month.
• The average circulation life of $20 bills is two years.
• There are about 5 billion $20 bills in the world.
• For more details on the new $20 bill, visit Web site.
Tristate banks, savings banks and credit unions will be the first to receive the new bills, and they will circulate them to their customers.

That presents some challenges, especially for retailers whose clerks could encounter three different versions of the $20 bill in the same transaction.

Many examples of the older version of the bill, with a small portrait of Jackson, remain in circulation. An updated bill, with a much larger portrait, was introduced in 1999 and is the variety most often encountered at the cash register.

The older bills will be destroyed as they gradually come back to the Federal Reserve from banks in the region and will be replaced by the new notes.

A spokesman for Kroger Co. grocery stores in Cincinnati said the company likes the new bill because it has more security features, reducing the risk that Kroger will be cheated by someone passing a counterfeit.

new $20 bill

The company is distributing brochures to employees who handle money at cash registers and courtesy booths to help them recognize the new bill and detect suspect bills, said Art Wulfeck, a Kroger spokesman.

The Federal Reserve also is helping individuals and companies deal with the new bill by distributing brochures that detail the changes. Also, a Treasury Department Web site has been established to answer frequently-asked questions about the new bill and other U.S. currency.

In addition to its color scheme, the new bill has high-tech security measures such as micro-printing elements invisible to the naked eye.

"Every time we develop notes, counterfeiters try to duplicate the features," the Fed's Joesting said. "To prevent that from happening, the Treasury has incorporated additional anticounterfeiting measures into the new notes."

The new design includes a faint blue eagle printed on the left side and another small eagle perched on a shield on the right side. The oval borders around the image of Andrew Jackson as well as around the White House on the reverse of the bill have been removed.

Other changes include a peachy tint around Jackson's face and gold and green colors for the $20 denomination on the front of the bill. On the previous bill, the denomination is in black and green.

Kroger's Wulfeck said occasional redesign of currency is effective in thwarting counterfeiters. "We like that the government periodically changes the design," he said. "We haven't had major problems with counterfeiting, and the changes have helped."

The new $20 bill will be followed in 2004 by a new $50 bill and in 2005 by a new $100 design. Joesting said those bills also will be vibrant, but specific colors have not been chosen.

No decision has made yet on a timeline for introduction of new $5 and $10 bills, he said, and there are no plans to redesign the $1 bill. While it's the bill most often encountered in commerce, most counterfeiters don't want to be bothered with such a small denomination, Joesting said.


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