examination of local currency

 Local Currencies Under Examination

There are more than 250 local currencies being used worldwide. In the UK, schemes such as the Brixton Pound are being introduced to promote local sustainability but just how secure are the ‘banknotes’ that are being issued by these local initiatives?

Five years since the launch of the Brixton Pound, Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller has created a new limited-edition B£5 banknote for the UKs original local currency.

The front of the note features a pattern of psychedelic swirls around an unidentifiable face, on the reverse is a quote from philosopher Karl Marx.

The note has been designed to be eye-catching and unique but, at a time when the printing technology of criminals and fraudsters is quick to adapt to the challenges set by the security printers responsible for producing national currencies, what level of security does it offer to the consumers and businesses that choose to convert legal tender cash to local currency?


Security Features

The Bank of England estimates the value of Brixton Pounds currently in circulation to be in excess of £100,000 GBP . Each individual note is printed on water marked paper with customized holograms, embossing, and UV fluorescent illustrations.

Perhaps even more secure are the notes being issued by UK’s largest local currency, the Bristol Pound (£250,000 GBP in circulation). In 2015 the Bristol Pound organisation produced a two-page guide to identifying genuine Bristol Pound notes.

The document included instructions on how to authenticate notes by examining six key security features: Fluorescent ink, etched foil, UV features, thermochromic ink, security holograms and the notes individually printed serial numbers.


Risk of Counterfeiting

To the issuers (and holders) of local currency the risk of counterfeiting is clear. A successful counterfeit attack on local currency would destroy confidence in the banknotes and would most likely bring an immediate end to the scheme as a whole.

As local currency schemes are independent from the Bank of England, holders of local banknotes would not be subject to the same protection as banknote holders.


A shop advertises its participation in the Brixton Pound scheme 



brixtonpound.org/ website of the Brixton Pound

bristolpound.org/ website of the Bristol Pound

Questioned Document Examination Products

Application Study: Polarisation features on banknotes