"Greenbacks" may soon become an obsolete term. A new addition of background color on currency is on the way to the United States, starting with the newly designed $20 bill, which will be unveiled May 13. The design has not been announced yet, but one thing is certain - we will soon see some hint of color in our wallets. Originally, the bill was to be displayed to the public on March 27, but the war in Iraq delayed the unveiling.
The new bill will feature the same security features as in the current $20, including a security strip, a watermark that is visible when you hold the bill up to the light, tiny print visible with a magnifying glass, and an ink process that looks black at one angle and green at another. In addition, there will be colors. The U.S. Treasury Department isn't saying what colors will be added, but they have announced that there will be subtle background colors.
The new colored $20 will be released into circulation in September. Next year a colored $50 will appear, and in 2005 we'll see a colored $100. The Treasury Department has yet to decide what to do with the $5 and $10 bills. The $1 and $2 bills will remain unchanged.
The bills we use now, with the security features and the big faces that were added in the 1990s, were designed to thwart counterfeiters. Instead, counterfeiters have discovered they can bleach the colors out of lower currency bills and digitally print larger currency amounts on the same paper. It remains to be seen how successful the new bills will be at foiling the counterfeiters.