SA's new banknotes and coins sees enhanced security features and new designs

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has upgraded its banknotes and coins, and will be available as soon as Thursday.


In a statement, SARB said the denominations will be introduced incrementally.

‘’The upgraded banknotes and coin have enhanced security features and new designs; however, the broad themes for the upgraded banknotes remain the same as the current banknotes, while the theme for the coin is deep ecology.’’

According to the SARB, the banknotes will continue to pay tribute to South Africa's first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, with his portrait retained on the front of the banknotes while the Big 5 animals are now illustrated as a family on the back.

‘’We also celebrate our constitutional democracy with the preamble to the South African Constitution printed in microtext around Madiba’s portrait and the country’s flag featured on the front and the back of the banknotes. The theme of the coin series is deep ecology, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of living organisms as an integral part of the environment. These themes are depicted by our fauna and flora on the coin,’’ said SARB.

SARB says the upgrade in banknotes and coins are necessary to combat counterfeiting and to stay abreast with technological advancements, to keep in line with international best practice. Banknotes are usually refreshed in intervals of 6 to 8 years and coin in intervals of 20 to 30 years. In South Africa, the current Mandela banknote series was issued in 2012 and a commemorative series of banknotes was issued in 2018. The current coin series was issued in 1989.

‘’The SARB does not demonetise its currency. All previously issued circulation banknotes and coin can be used as a means of trade together with the upgraded banknotes and coin. All circulation currency maintains its face value,’’ said the South African Reserve Bank.


In terms of banknotes

The following enhancements have been made:

Look features

• The colours have been subtly enhanced to improve visual differentiation between the denominations to cater for the partially sighted communities.

• The watermark depicts the shadow image of the Big 5 animal unique to each denomination, together with its denomination numeral.

• The preamble to South Africa’s Constitution is featured to the left and right sides of the main portrait in micro-lettering.

• Large denomination numerals have been incorporated on the front and back of the denominations, printed in positive and negative text to assist the partially sighted community.

• To further assist the partially sighted, each denomination now has a shape that encapsulate the see-through perfect print registration of the animal that is unique to each denomination. These shapes are:

  • diamond on the R10,


  • rectangle on the R20,


  • circle on the R50,


  • hexagon on the R100


  • and oval on the R200.


A complete image of the Big 5 animal can be seen when the banknote is held up to the light.

Feel features

• The tactile marks have been enhanced to support the blind and partially blind communities to differentiate between the denominations. The tactile marks are on the short edge of the R10 and R20 denominations and the long edge of the R50, R100 and R200 denominations. The gaps between the sets of tactile marks are counted to determine the denomination of the banknote: R10 – one gap, R20 – two gaps (on the short edge); R50 – one gap, R100 – two gaps and R200 – three gaps (on the long edge).

• The Coat of Arms, the words ‘South African Reserve Bank’, the Governor’s name and signature, the main portrait and the denomination numeral are in raised print on the front of the banknotes.

• The words ‘South African Reserve Bank’ in two of the 11 official languages, the denomination numeral and the Big 5 animals are in raised print on the back of the banknotes.

Tilt features

• SPARK®Live Truspin, a colour-changing ink with a spin circle feature, is incorporated within the Big 5 animal on the bottom right of the banknote. The circle spins and changes colour when the banknote is tilted.

• The security thread shows a dynamic movement and matches the colour change on the SPARK®Live Truspin when the banknote is tilted. The abbreviation ‘SARB’, the denomination numeral and the Big 5 animal unique to each denomination are visible on the security thread. When the banknote is held up to the light, the security thread appears as a continuous solid dark line.

• The denomination numeral appears as a latent image or hidden image on each banknote. The latent image can be seen by tilting the banknote almost horizontally to your eye.

In terms of the Coin

The diameter, national Coat of Arms, the mintage year and the 11 official languages of South Africa, which are rotated on a 10-year cycle, remain unchanged.

The following design enhancements have been made:

• The Cape honey bee is on the 10c,

bitter aloe is on the 20c,

Knysna turaco is on the 50c,

  • King protea is on the R1,

The South African flag is on the front of the R1 coin.

The words ‘South Africa’ are in one language on the R1 coin.

springbok is on the R2

and southern right whale is on the R5 coin. The words ‘South Africa’ are in three languages on the R5 coin; The latent image on the R5 changes from ‘RAND’ to ‘FIVE’ when tilted.

The coin series has new landing patterns on the inside of the coin to assist the visually impaired community to differentiate between the various denominations by feel

Done By: Mitchum George


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