Philippine banknotes security features

Embedded Threads

Hold up your paper bills to the light and, depending on the denomination, you will immediately see one or two vertical lines within the banknote. They are there as security features to make it very difficult for counterfeiters to imitate real currency. Likewise, they are there to help you differentiate the counterfeit from the genuine.

Embedded security thread

The embedded security thread is a special thread vertically implanted off center of the note during the manufacture of the banknote paper. This can easily be seen when the note is viewed against the light. It appears as a broken line for 5’s, 10’s and 20’s and straight line for 50’s, 100’s, 200’s , 500’s and 1000’s. Try folding the banknote along this line and you will feel the distinct stiffness of the thread. With some determination, it is also possible to manually remove these threads from the banknotes - but don't do that! It's illegal.

On the photo above, the embedded security thread is the solid vertical line on the left.

Windowed Colorshift with Cleartext Security Thread
This is a 1.4 mm security thread vertically located like “stitches” at the face of the note. It changes in color from magenta to green or green to magenta depending on the angle of view. When viewed against the light, it appears as a single solid line and the corresponding denomination of the banknote will show through. This security feature is only present in the 100s, 500s, and newer 1000-peso bills.

Security Fibers
There are two kinds of security fibers. The first one is the visible security fibers. These are easily seen in current Philippine banknotes as the blue and red fibers that are randomly spread throughout the front and back of the paper. The other kind is the invisible security fiber. These glow a fluorescent yellow under ultraviolet light.

Security fibers are another form of security feature in Philippine money that guard against counterfeiting. Genuine security fibers in Philippine banknotes can be easily plucked out (yes, try it!) with the aid of a needle. Counterfeit money usually only prints the fibers on paper, thus , they cannot be plucked out.

Fluorescent Printing

Ever wondered what cashiers are up to when they hold your banknotes under a money detector? You know, it's that device that emits some sort of dark purple light. It's the same kind of light that attracts innocent insects towards bug zappers.

Alright, your cashier is just checking if your money is fake or not. If placed under the money detector, some parts of the banknote would normally glow and reveal interesting marks. The marks are called fluorescent prints and they "fluoresce" or glow when exposed to UV light.

The money detector holds a special bulb called the UV lamp or black light. It emits ultraviolet light which causes fluorescent dyes on the banknote to light up. Fluorescent marks usually portray the denomination of the banknote and is located off-center to the left of the portraits. The dye is also incorporated in some of the serial numbers and security fibers. This causes them to glow as well.

Fluorescent printing is not entirely new. In fact, Bagong Lipunan bills already had them. Counterfeiters have been known to replicate fluorescent printing into fake bills. thus, it is not an assurance that your money is authentic.

Optically Variable Ink
Optically variable inks (OVI) are very expensive inks applied on banknotes as a security feature. So far, only the 1000 peso bills have this. There are two versions of OVI printing on the 1000 peso banknotes. The image above shows the newer 'improved' version on top of the older one. The former has more coverage and its color varies better. This is an excellent security feature because counterfeiters will need a lot of effort and money to replicate it.

So why are they called optically variable inks? Tiny flakes of color-shifting film are incorporated in the intaglio ink. Thus, prints of OVI change color when viewed from different angles. The pictures below show how the 1000 figure changes from green...

to blue... Or does it?

Concealed Value in 500 Peso Bill

Have you noticed cashiers sometimes hold up 500 peso bills to eye level and appear to look for something at the lower-left corner of the banknote? Well, they are indeed looking for something. There is a concealed value in the boxed portion of the banknote above. This is another security feature that could help distinguish genuine notes from the fake.

If you would look intently on the 500 peso bill, in the area of the boxed portion above, you should be able to distinguish a "500" figure composed of minute horizontal lines against the intricate pattern behind it. Hold the bill flat at eye level and tilt it just slightly and the figure becomes more vivid. Try it now! Do you see it?

Perfect See-Through Register

Some of our Philippine banknotes have a perfect see-through register feature. A good example would be the 2000 bill.

On the banknote's front side, near the upper-left corner, one would find the seemingly abstract shapes:

Similar symbols appear on the reverse of the note near the upper-right corner.

So what do these strange symbols stand for? Actually, nothing! That is until we hold the note up to the light and see them together form the letters "BSP" which is the acronym for Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The prints at the back and front of the banknote are printed such that they "register" "perfect"ly with one another. They are printed exactly over one another to create a complete image when held up to the light. This is the perfect see-through register security feature. Ordinary printing methods will find it hard to be able to achieve the same accuracy in printing.

A perfect see-through register may also be found on the 200 peso banknote. The 200 outline in front and the blue 200 at the back meet in one zero to form another perfect see-through register. However, for this particular note I have photographed and many other 200 peso bills, the register is not that "prefect" at all.

Check out the 50 peso bill. It has a more "perfect" see-through register in one of its zeros.

Where are the Microprints?
50 peso bill

100 peso bill

200 peso bill
500 peso bil

1000 peso bill
Microprinting is extremely difficult to accomplish in printing presses and other printing methods readily available to the public. Thus, the very small text in micrprinting are good indicators that a banknote is genuine.

The 1000 peso bill repeats: "Central Bank of the Philippines." Part of the text is even printed with optically variable ink (OVI).

The 500 peso bill also repeats: "Central Bank of the Philippines."

The 200 peso bill repeats in two different parts of the note: "Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas."
The 100 peso bill repeats: "Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas."
The 50 peso bill repeats: "Gusali ng Pambansang Museo"

Code for the Blind - 200 Peso Bill

The 200 peso bill is the first Philippine banknote to implement a feature that is meant to aid visually impaired people in handling paper bills. Blind people can usually tell the difference between the older banknotes just by feeling the prints which are usually embossed. However, as the banknotes wear out, they become more and more difficult to distinguish.

The code for the blind on the 200 peso banknote is strategically located on the upper left corner of the banknote. It is purposedly raised so that the blind can still feel it even after some wear. This feature also helps to discourage counterfeiting since it is quite costly to emboss prints.
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