Nigeria is trying to solve a corruption problem with new currency.
The design and denomination will matter.
Nigeria’s New Money
Today had been the deadline for using 1,000, 500, and 200 naira banknotes. Scheduled to be pulled out of circulation, the larger banknotes had newly designed replacements. Now though the old bills will remain legal currency until February 10th. The Nigerian government had to postpone because the new currency was insufficiently available.
Nigeria is making the switch to minimize counterfeiting and corruption. They say that the old bank notes were too easy to reproduce. In addition, they were concerned with excessive cash payments in business. Similarly, for the upcoming elections, they targeted politicians that had hoarded cash for vote buying. If they try to exchange the old notes for new ones, their stash will become public. However, if they don’t, then their money will be unusable.
These are the replacement banknotes. While the 1,000 and 500 notes have new images, the 200 naira note does not:
I suspect that design experts might have said that the new Nigerian notes could have been better.
With Australian currency, for example, the notes get larger, maybe a centimeter each time. As a result, in your pocket, you can feel the size of your bills and know what you have. Colorful, the 5 dollar note is sort of lavender, the 10, bluish, 20 is orangy-red (sometimes called a lobster), 50 is yellow (occasionally referred to as the piney because of its pineapple resemblance). Also, instead of some linen and cotton, the Australians use a plastic-like polymer that lasts 4 times longer.
Our Bottom Line: The Best Currency Design
Summarizing, one expert suggests that varied size, different colors, user friendliness and durability are the basics of good currency design.
- Size: Size should vary, depending on denomination.
- Color: Denominations would also have a different color. Then we could easily distinguish them (and not worry about mistakenly giving someone a $10 rather than a $1).
- Functionality: Here is where security details enter the picture. Then, we can add the need for the texture and size that assist the visually impaired.
- Composition: Plastic (polymer) bills are more durable.
- Symbolism: Currency could provide a history lesson. Or, like Norway’s wind and sea images, they can represent the “essence” of the country.
My sources and more: For the Nigerian new money design story, FT was our first stop. Then, with more of the details, Daily Trust had the currency images. However, my past research uncovered the most fascinating currency design basics at 99% Invisible, the NY Times, and the IMF. In addition, econlife looked at how India managed a demonetization situation like Nigeria’s.
Please note that, dating back to the Bank of England, our featured image displays the history of Nigeria’s banknotes since 1880. Also, “Our Bottom Line” list and the Australian currency paragraph are from a past econlife post.