Swiss money is about to change. On 12 April 2016, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) will put a new 50-franc note into circulation. The new 20-franc note will be released the following year, and the other four denominations – 10, 100, 200 and 1,000, at half-yearly or yearly intervals after this date, with the last hitting the streets in 2019.
The release of these new Swiss notes is the end of more than 10 years work. At the beginning of 2005, twelve designers were asked to submit designs under the theme “Switzerland open to the world”. A jury met in November of the same year and presented the winning design. Then in 2007 the SNB changed it’s mind and decided to go with a reworked version of the design that had come second in 2005. It gave designer Manuela Pfrunder of Zurich until mid-2008 to come up with a reworked version. The final launch date was announced in August 2015.
The new notes will be the ninth series of Swiss money. The first was issued in 1907, withdrawn in 1925 and became worthless in 1945. Like the current series and future notes, its largest note was CHF 1,000.
The Swiss CHF 1,000 note is currently the second largest note still printed, the largest being the Singaporean $10,000 note, currently worth over 7,000 Swiss francs.
Large bank notes are a dying breed. The 500 euro note, nicknamed the “Bin Laden”, because it is known to exist but is hard to find, has been slated for withdrawal for some time.
Large bank notes have been linked with crime as they are great for concealing large sums of money with minimal bulk. More recently, former US Treasury secretary Larry Summers, called for withdrawal of the US$100 note, according to the Economist magazine.
In today’s climate of negative central bank interest rates, criminals might not be the only ones drawn to large banknotes. One hundred 1,000 franc notes fit more easily under a mattress or in a bank vault than two thousand 50 franc notes. In addition, as well as a large note, the Swiss franc has long history of holding its value.
The new Swiss notes will look something like Manuela Pfrunder’s first design below:
Fortunately the notes’ colours will remain the same, reducing the chance of confusing 10s and 1,000s.
The SNB says that the current eighth banknote series will continue to be legal tender until further notice and its withdrawal from circulation will be announced well in advance.