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How Effective is Intelligent Banknote Neutralization System on Cotton and Polymer Banknotes?

Traditionally, banknotes are produced on a cotton-paper substrate that incorporates numerous visible and invisible security features. IBNS have been designed to prevent illegal access to cash by staining banknotes indelibly over a large part of their surface. The ink penetrates deep into the cotton paper fibers and is totally indelible. Can these properties also be confirmed for banknotes produced on a polymer substrate? Is the ink also indelible? In other words, do IBNS also work on polymer banknotes?

Polymer cotton banknotes (1)
The specificities of Cotton Paper and Polymer Banknotes :  

Cotton Paper Banknotes 

The combination of high-security printing with the cotton paper substrate and its many security features has resulted in banknotes that are impossible to counterfeit perfectly

Banknotes have been in circulation for centuries in most countries, and have proven to be highly reliable despite intensive use.

Over time, however, Central Banks have clearly set the objective of extending the life cycle of banknotes. This objective, expressed to industry players, has led to the development of more wear-resistant inks, protective varnishes and alternative substrates.

Polymer Banknotes

A new polymer substrate was introduced to the market in 1983 and has been adopted by the Reserve Bank of Australia since 1996.

Countries such as Hong Kong and Canada have had polymer banknotes since 2012,  and more recently, the Bank of England migrated the British Pound to a polymer substrate. Polymer substrates are also gaining in popularity worldwide. The BSP (Central Bank of the Philippines) has announced the introduction of 1 billion polymer banknotes in the country in January 2024.

Intelligent Banknote Neutralization System in CIT & ATM environment

IBNS in Cash-In-Transit environment :

IBNS is used to protect cash during transport and storage against all types of physical attack (drilling, grinding, torching, use of chemicals, exposure to extreme temperatures, explosives, etc.) as well as against attacks involving a human factor (internal theft, kidnapping, blackmail, corruption, negligence, etc.).

Cash-In-Transit companies, Central Banks, Commercial Banks and Retailers are the usual and traditional users of the IBNS.

The illustration below shows an example of the secure transport of banknotes using IBNS as a deterrent. Access to and operation of the Cash-In-Transit container are controlled by electronics combined with software and security keys. This constitutes the security protocol that eliminates any possibility of illegal access. All events are recorded in the system "black box". A number of options are available, including GPS and remote activation.

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IBNS in ATM environment :

IBNS are used to protect cash within the ATM against physical attacks. These attacks areICSD maculé carried out to gain access to the cash contained in the ATM safe. Typical customers are ATM deployers such as commercial banks and ATM manufacturers. The cassette illustrated below is an example of a standard ATM cassette whose lid has been fitted with the IBNS system. Combined with sensors and the control module, this system protects the ATM against any attempt at illegal access, and neutralizes all banknotes contained in the cassettes using indelible ink. The IBNS technology developed to protect ATMs is known as the In Cassette Staining Device (ICSD).

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IBNS on Cotton banknotes



Staining inks have been designed over time in the objective of offering the best capillarity and the best resistance to washing attempts and protocols. Despite the introduction of coatings and varnishes, the improvements in the formulation of these IBNS inks have allowed to actually penetrate the cotton-paper fibers and consequently achieve a non-reversible coverage of the banknotes.


IBNS on Polymer Banknotes 

The effects of IBNS on Polymer Banknotes :

Thanks to enhanced ink formulation, the completely closed polymer substrate can also be addressed by IBNS. There is no penetration of the substrate as such but a non-reversible alteration of the substrate surface which will eventually also alter the security features embedded in the banknote.

In countries such as Mexico, Malaysia, UK, the IBNS have been largely deployed with success. The numbers of ATM physical attacks have significantly reduced after rolling out the IBNS . Stained polymer banknotes cannot be cleaned and put back into circulation, making robberies pointless.

IBNS certifications :

Logo_SICPA_RGB_NEG_onbluebckgIt is important to prove that the performance of neutralization of the banknotes is meeting the international standards. Oberthur Cash Protection and SICPA  the ink manufacturer commissioned an assessment from an independent laboratory specializing in inks and paints (Department of Colour Science, The University of Leeds). The conclusion of the test report mentions that ‘’the staining ink tested is indeed one that is capable of effectively staining £10 Bank of England notes to the extent of resisting the significant removal of the stain without causing severe damageof the notes thus rendering the banknote unusable’’.

The staining of polymer banknotes is as effective as that of traditional cotton paper banknotes. The ink has been effectively adapted to this new substrate, allowing Central Banks that have switched to polymer banknotes to remain confident that IBNS will continue to contribute to crime prevention.

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Eric Hauw, Sales & Marketing Director, Oberthur Cash Protection

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