When Australia issued its first polymer banknote, it was a radical disruption to the 300 year-old paper banknote industry. As a steady number of countries began using polymer banknotes from the outset, it took more than 20 years for the banknote industry and many central banks to realise that polymer banknote technology was here to stay.
Without the ownership and support of the Reserve Bank of Australia and by extension Note Printing Australia, industry experts and commentators agree there is little chance polymer banknote technology would ever have been adopted worldwide.
The RBA’s patronage, and NPA’s technical know-how and printing experience, gave polymer banknote technology the stamp of approval and performance delivery needed to be adopted by other nations. In its strong and collegial connection to Australia, New Zealand immediately moved to polymer issuing a spectacular new series that was printed by NPA. Due to their high humidity, equatorial nations immediately could see the benefit of polymer over paper. Brunei, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Singapore were early adopters of polymer banknotes, all of which were printed by NPA.
The formation of Securency International (a joint venture between the RBA and UCB Films) in 1996, the expansion of Craigieburn's dedicated polymer substrate manufacturing facility to two lines in 2007, the completion of new polymer substrate production facilities in Mexico (2009) and England (2015), and the entry of new polymer substrate suppliers from 2013 onwards were also milestone moments in the global growth and impact of polymer banknotes.
The period of 2011-17 was a time of true acceptance by the industry with many central banks worldwide electing to move their banknotes to polymer. To this point, the facts around polymer banknote performance (durability, counterfeit-resistance, environmental-friendliness) became Irrefutable. After 25 years in the market, many central banks, large and small, decided the time was right.
Some of the most influential new adopters of polymer banknotes include the Bank of Canada and Bank of England who, like the Reserve Bank of Australia, are both highly resourced, highly technical, and are looking for products that meet the highest standards and requirements. Both went through a comprehensive process of substrate selection and decided polymer was right for them. Both have publicly confirmed that their polymer banknotes have performed to expectations.