To obviate the need for transporting cartloads of heavy coins collected as revenue in far-flung part of the country, China resorted to paper currency in 11th century. It was the first country to do so. Currency notes were issued by an agency of the government of China’s Sung Dynasty in 1023 AD. These notes were made of specially manufactured paper to discourage forgery, and bore special numbers. In 1107, color printing was introduced to make the counterfeiters’ task harder. It is interesting to note that Europeans, after reading Macro Polo’s travelogue about China, could not understand how a piece of paper could be valuable, so they did not adopt paper money until 17th century.
A quantum change was seen in January 1988 when the Australian Reserve Bank of Canberra released the first batch of plastic notes (see, photo above), incorporating see-through section and holographic image on a metallic background. The intention was to make a more durable note than the common paper type and, with the holograph, to make counterfeiting difficult. Today, dozens of countries have their currency notes printed on plastic, incorporating many security features that make them forgery proof.