Switzerland takes home 2016 IBNS ‘Bank Note of the Year’ Award

The International Bank Note Society (IBNS) recently announced its voting membership has selected the Swiss National Bank to receive the prestigious Bank Note of the Year Award for 2016.

According to organizers, nearly 120 new notes were released around the world in 2016, and more than half were eligible for nomination.

“While the Swiss 50 Franc hybrid note was the narrow winner, runners-up in very tight voting were the Maldive Islands 1000 Rufiyaa tortoise/whale shark, Argentina’s 500 Peso jaguar, and the Royal Bank of Scotland’s 5 Pound first polymer note.”

The note’s reverse depicts a paraglider aloft in the mountains.

The Switzerland 50-franc note is the first new design the Swiss National Bank has released in 20 years. Printed by Orell Fussli Security Printing, this note from the new ninth series features wind and national experiences. Incorporating the latest technological security standards, future notes will depict time, light, water, matter and language.

Using a three-layer substrate known as “Durasafe,” the bright green vertical banknote depicts dandelion seeds, a paraglider aloft in the mountains and a strikingly playful human hand. This is the first hybrid note to win the coveted IBNS banknote award.

Currently the Swiss franc is at par with the U.S. dollar and near par with the euro. One franc is worth about $1.37 Cdn.


Now in its 56th year, the IBNS has more than 2.000 members worldwide. As a non-profit educational organization its objectives are to promote, stimulate and advance the study, collection and dissemination of information related to paper money. From all significant newly designed and widely circulated banknotes released in 2016, the IBNS membership nominated notes from a near record 19 countries to place on the ballot.

Nominees represented four continents (Europe, Australia, South America and Asia), two Middle Eastern countries and four island nations. Past Bank Note of the Year winners include New Zealand (2015), Trinidad & Tobago (2014), Kazakhstan (2013, 2012, 2011), Uganda (2010), Bermuda (2009), Samoa (2008), Scotland (2007), Comoros (2006), Faeroe Islands (2005) and Canada (2004).

For more information, visit theibns.org.


In 2004, Canada’s $20 banknote was named the Banknote of the Year.

Canada won the 2004 Bank Note of the Year Award for its $20 note of the Journey series, which followed the Birds of Canada series.

The first Journey note to enter circulation was the $10 bill in January 2001; the final note of the series was issued in November 2004.

The Journey series’ $20 banknote depicts a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and artwork by Bill Reid on the reverse. Reid’s artwork is inspired by the Haida culture of the northwest coast of Canada.

“The portrait used on the award-winning design of the 20-dollar note is probably the finest portrait of the mature monarch to appear on any banknote, and the quality of the portrait is one of the reasons the note was well regarded by the judges,” reads the IBNS website. “Significantly, the 20-dollar note also carries the most modern security features, with an advanced holographic stripe, a high quality watermark, a colour-shifting security thread, and highly-developed fluorescent features, amongst other lesser features.”

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