Lost Racks: The Price of Printing Currencies in Other Countries

By CultureBanx Team

  • Liberia’s central bank lost $104M worth of banknotes from overseas printers
  • The global market for banknote printing is forecast to increase from $9.7B in 2018 to $11.1B in 2023

Missing cash to the tune of $104 million in Liberia is still unaccounted for, after it was printed overseas and passed through the country’s main port and airport. With Africa being the fastest growing region for banknote printing and several countries having this process done outside of their borders, should we care where our money is printed?

Why This Matters: A number of highly specialized companies make cash for most of the world’s currencies. Liberia uses outsourced printing for its banknotes simply because it’s expensive and difficult to do within the country. They are also trying to avoid having to keep up with fast moving technological advances to prevent counterfeiting.

The production and distribution of new banknotes is the responsibility of a country’s central bank. Governments around the world pay close attention to these coins, especially because the global market for banknote printing is forecast to increase from $9.7 billion in 2018 to $11.1 billion in 2023, according to Smithers.

Herein lies the problem, in some instances a foreign government could withhold cash from a country, if its money is printed within their jurisdiction. Also, a country could be undermined by outsourcing production if the manufacturer printed more than what was asked for, effectively oversupplying an economy with cash. Undesired effects on that country’s economy such as inflation could occur.

Countries like the U.S. are legally obligated to print their banknotes within its territories, though other places like Liberia don’t even have their own mint. The BBC reported a banknote printer produces up to 1.4 billion notes a year, specifically the U.S. prints approximately seven billion notes per year.

Situational Awareness: Currently, there is no international body for regulating money production and that may become less of a concern as technology continues to take over. Cash may soon become a relic of the past as the rise of cash apps and mobile payments play a bigger role in everyday life.

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