On the twenty third flooring of the European Central Bank’s towering Frankfurt headquarters, on the opposite facet of a safety door, anti-counterfeiting consultants are poring over a few of the greatest faux banknotes within the eurozone.
The room, off limits to outsiders, at first look remembers a highschool science lab—an unusually well-equipped one.
Lined up on the workbenches are 3D microscopes, ultra-sensitive scales and particular units designed to detect round a dozen of the protection options embedded in real euro banknotes—and spot the forgeries.
The evaluation performed by the handful of specialists within the room helps the ECB maintain updated with the newest counterfeiting strategies, and hopefully keep a step forward.
Twenty years after the launch of the only forex, the danger of a eurozone citizen holding a faux euro word is “very slim”, stated Jean-Michel Grimal, head of the ECB’s forex growth division.
And the probabilities have been getting slimmer by the 12 months.
According to the ECB—answerable for issuing payments whereas the central banks of the 19 eurozone nations every produce their very own cash—banknote counterfeiting fell to a traditionally low degree in 2020.
Around 460,000 faux euro payments have been taken out of circulation final 12 months, an 18-percent drop on 2019.
By comparability, there are at present 27 billion real euro notes on the market.
The security of euro banknotes has contributed to the “strong trust” eurozone residents have within the single forex, Grimal stated, with current surveys placing assist for the euro at round 80 %.
The lab’s greatest treasure is a big iron cupboard that requires two folks to open it, every solely realizing a part of the key mixture.
Inside is a trove of practically 1,000 faux banknotes, from five- to 500-euro payments, which were studied over the previous twenty years.
Every eurozone nation has its personal counterfeiting detection centre, however Frankfurt holds essentially the most “interesting” examples as a result of they’re thought of one of the best imitations, stated Eric Languillat, one of many ECB’s counterfeiting consultants.
The evaluation performed right here additionally helps to offer “a quantitative view of the (fake) notes circulating in Europe”, he stated.
The findings are shared with police services just like the EU police company Europol to assist them monitor down counterfeiting networks.
The ECB’s analysis and growth groups, tasked with always bettering the standard and safety of euro payments, additionally feed off the lab’s discoveries.
“If we notice the counterfeiters using certain technological methods, the R&D teams will look at what they can put in place to counteract them,” stated Grimal.
The ECB’s tampering-fighting efforts come at a value, requiring a large annual price range.
But the cash spent “is a good investment compared to the cost of a counterfeiting crisis”, stated Grimal.
‘Feel, look, tilt’
The Frankfurt analysts study the payments into the smallest particulars.
On one pc display screen, a real 20-euro word is blown as much as practically 70 occasions its dimension, revealing the tiny waves contained in the “20” determine, resembling the ridges of a ploughed discipline, and fairly a problem to mimic.
Citizens do not essentially “have the instinct to look closely at notes,” stated Languillat.
That’s why the ECB has for years inspired the general public to make use of the “feel, look, tilt” methodology to examine that what they’re holding is the actual factor—no microscope required.
Special printing ensures no different notes really feel like euro notes, holding a invoice as much as the sunshine reveals the watermark and safety thread, whereas tilting it adjustments the hologram and colour-shifting pictures.
“If you look carefully at a banknote, the quality of a fake is generally pretty bad, it should be easy to spot,” he stated.
© 2021 AFP
Inside the ECB’s secret lab to smell out faux euro payments (2021, December 29)
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