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Joint Press Release Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Bureau of Engraving and Printing

For Immediate Release
October 9, 2003

Local Businesses Prepare for New Notes; Local Officials Participate in First Transaction

U.S. government officials introduced the newly redesigned $20 note into the community today at the L'Enfant Plaza Post Office in Washington, D.C., marking the first opportunity for the public to spend the new currency in the Washington area. James Brent, the chief of the office of currency production in the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, joined Michael Lambert, financial services manager of the Federal Reserve Board, to mark this historic milestone.

The new currency includes improved security features and subtle background colors of green, peach, and blue. Today marks the day banks begin receiving the new bills from the Federal Reserve System, and in turn begin distributing them to their customers. It will take several days or even weeks for the bills to fully circulate through the community.

In Washington, the first expenditure with the new $20 bill was the purchase of stamps from the stamp vending machines at the Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service has had to prepare its machines as well as its employees to ensure acceptance of the new money.

"After months of seeing them roll off of the presses, I am honored to spend the first new $20 bill in my hometown of Washington, D.C.," said Brent, who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of currency production at the Bureau's Washington, D.C., facility. "The Bureau of Engraving and Printing is tremendously proud of The New Color of Money, and I am proud to have helped in the creation of the safest, smartest and most secure note the U.S. government has ever produced."

"Today marks the formal introduction into circulation of the most secure note the U.S. government has ever produced," said the Federal Reserve Board's Lambert. "Its enhanced security will help ensure that our currency continues to represent value, trust and confidence to people all over the world."

"The U.S. Postal Service's stamp vending machines are ready and able to accommodate the new $20 bills, and our retail associates look forward to serving customers using this new currency," explained the Postal Service's Manager of Customer Service Operations, Fred Hintenach. "We are honored that the Bureau chose the L'Enfant Plaza Post Office to be the site of Washington's first commercial transaction with the new $20 bill."

Today's event in D.C. was one of more than 30 that took place around the country, including an event in New York City. Tom Ferguson, director of the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), and Marsha Reidhill, the Federal Reserve Board's assistant director for cash, marked today's historic issue of the new $20 bill in New York City's Times Square, where they spent the new $20 bill at a Times Square area business.

The BEP and the Federal Reserve System have been educating the public worldwide about the new bills in professional and community settings, in preparation for a smooth transition this fall. Over 37 million items of training materials such as brochures, posters, training videos and CD-ROMS, have been ordered by businesses large and small to train their cash-handling employees on the bill's new look and updated security features. Additionally, there have been more than 2 million visits to the new money Web site ( for information. The public education program continues globally with broadcast, print, Internet and other public education advertising, and integration of the new money's look and security features will be featured in the story lines of television programs that reach millions of viewers.

The New Color of Money
The most noticeable difference in the new $20 notes is the subtle green, peach and blue colors featured in the background. New designs for the $50 and $100 notes are scheduled for introduction in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Different colors will be used for different denominations, which will help everyone--particularly those who are visually impaired--to tell denominations apart. Redesign of the $5 and $10 notes is under consideration, but the $1 and $2 notes will not be redesigned. Even after the new money is issued, older-design notes will remain legal tender.

While consumers should not use color to check the authenticity of their currency (relying instead on user-friendly security features--see below), color does add complexity to the note, making counterfeiting more difficult.

The new $20 bills remain the same size and use the same, but enhanced portraits and historical images of Andrew Jackson on the face of the note and the White House on the back. The redesign also features symbols of freedom--a blue eagle in the background, and a metallic green eagle and shield to the right of the portrait.

Security Features
The new $20 note design retains three important security features that were first introduced in the late 1990s and are easy for consumers and merchants alike to check:

  • The watermark--the faint image similar to the large portrait, which is part of the paper itself and is visible from both sides when held up to the light.
  • The security thread--also visible from both sides when held up to the light, this vertical strip of plastic is embedded in the paper. "USA TWENTY" and a small flag are visible along the thread.
  • The color-shifting ink--the numeral "20" in the lower-right corner on the face of the note changes from copper to green when the note is tilted. The color shift is more dramatic and easier to see on the new-design notes.

Because these features are difficult for counterfeiters to reproduce well, they often do not try. Counterfeiters are hoping that cash-handlers and the public will not check their money closely.

Counterfeiting: Increasingly Digital
Currency counterfeiters are increasingly turning to digital methods, as advances in technology make digital counterfeiting of currency easier and cheaper. In 1995, for example, less than 1 percent of counterfeit notes detected in the U.S. were digitally produced. By 2002, that number had grown to nearly 40 percent, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

Yet despite the efforts of counterfeiters, U.S. currency counterfeiting has been kept at low levels, with current estimates putting the level of counterfeit notes in circulation worldwide at between 0.01 and 0.02 percent, or about 1-2 notes in every 10,000 genuine notes.

To learn more about the new currency and to download an image of the new $20 note, visit

New Color of Money Media Support Trevor Francis (202) 530-4617

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Last update: October 9, 2003