Debut of a More Secure, Colorful $20 Bill

Federal Reserve Bulletin, November 2003 | Go to article overview

Debut of a More Secure, Colorful $20 Bill


The most secure currency in U.S. history was introduced into the economy on October 9, 2003, as a newly redesigned, colorful $20 bill was issued by the Federal Reserve System.

In dozens of communities from coast to coast, U.S. government officials and local business, banking, and civic leaders participated in transactions with the new $20 notes, marking the first opportunity for the public to spend the new currency. October 9 was the first day banks received the new bills from the Federal Reserve System and in turn began to distribute them to their customers. It took several days or even weeks for the bills to make their way to all communities in the United States and internationally. The new designs will co-circulate with old-design $20 notes, until, gradually, the old-design notes become worn and are pulled from circulation.

"The New Color of Money starts making its way into cash registers and wallets today," said Tom Ferguson, director of the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). "This is a historic milestone on two fronts: for the first time in modern history, U.S. currency features background colors other than black and green, and, more importantly, this currency is the most secure U.S. currency ever, to protect against counterfeiting."

"While much of the public will be anxious to see and handle this newly designed $20 bill, we want to emphasize that older-design $20 notes are still in circulation, and still maintain their value," said Marsha Reidhill, the Federal Reserve Board's assistant director for cash. "A genuine U.S. $20 bill--whether it has the new background colors or the familiar green and black--is legal tender, worth $20. It is important to remember that all bills are good, for good. The stability and integrity of U.S. currency has kept worldwide trust and confidence high, and the government is committed to keeping it that way."

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. More than 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 (www.moneyfactory.com/newmoney) 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 have been featured in the story lines of television programs that reach millions of viewers.

Ferguson and Reidhill marked the historic issue of the new $20 bill in New York City's Times Square, where they spent the new twenties in Times Square area businesses. In Washington, D.C., Michael Lambert, the Federal Reserve System's Financial Services manager who is responsible for cash, and James Brent, the BEP's chief of the office of currency production, demonstrated the effectiveness of the government's advance preparation for the new money by using a new $20 note to buy stamps from a vending machine at a U.S. Postal Service facility. The government began working with the vending machine industry and transit authorities more than a year ago to ensure there was ample time for adjustments so machines will accept the new bills. …

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