The Best in Banknotes and ID Documents in EMEA 2023

08 March 2023

Recognising Outstanding Design and Innovation in EMEA Banknotes

The prestigious Regional Banknote and ID Document of the Year Awards form part of the industry’s High Security Printing (HSP) EMEA conference. This year’s event was held on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, with the awards presented at a special ceremony at the stunning grounds of the W Hotel, during the conference dinner on 8 March.

The regional Banknote of the Year Award recognises outstanding achievement in the design, technical sophistication and security of a banknote or banknote series, with emphasis placed on reflecting the cultural heritage of the issuing country in the note, and the relevance of the overall design and symbolism.

There are three categories for the Banknote awards – Best New Series, Best New Banknote and Best New Commemorative Banknote – with Liberia, the UAE and Qatar all receiving recognition this year.

Best New Banknote Series

The winner of the best new series was the Central Bank of Liberia , which replaced its 2016 banknotes with a new series.  This included updated designs and a new high denomination of L$1,000. The other notes in the series are the L$20, L$50, L$100, and L$500. In addition, the L$5 and L$10 denominations have been minted as coins.

Most of the updated designs are the same as the previous series, and retain the same portraits with stylised changes, featuring a change of image only on the L$500.

All five denominations were produced by Giesecke+Devrient  over a two-year period, and strongly represent both the traditional and modern features of Liberia.  The front of the L$1,000, for example, shows the 16 ethnic groups of Liberia, as symbol of the origin of the country and national unity, whiule the L$500 The L$500 has new image on the front of seven ladies who designed the Liberian flag, recognising the role of women in the formation of Liberia and national development. 

Four of the denominations are secured with state-of-the-art RollingStar i+ threads. Each has a five-pointed star (representative of Liberia as the first independent republic on the African continent); and a dynamic pulsing effect when tilted. They also incorporate a different colour changing effect. The text ‘CBL’ and the denomination number can be seen as Cleartext when held up to the light. The RAPID thread from Crane Currency on the L$100 also incorporates the star.

Their introduction has been supported with a public education campaign and an app for the public to understand  the security features of the notes.

Best New Banknote

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates won the Best New banknote award for the 1,000 dirham (AED) banknote. It follows the issue of new 5 and 10 dirham notes in 2022 and the new 50 dirham in late 2021, all of which are printed by Oumolat Security Printing, located in Abu Dhabi, on De La Rue’s SAFEGUARD® polymer.

The front of the new banknote depicts the image of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, next to a model of a space shuttle, denoting his passion for the UAE to becoming a pioneer in space exploration, an ambition that was realised in the Emirates Mars Mission ‘Hope Probe’ journey in 2021. The reverse of the note depicts the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

The main security feature is a partially metallized KINEGRAM COLORS® foil stripe from KURZ depicting an astronaut. A separate window features a portrait of the Sheik. In addition, the numeral is printed with SICPA’s SPARK Flow® DIMENSION, which changes colour from gold-to-green

Best New Commemorative Banknote

The winner of the Best Commemorative Banknote was the Qatar Central Bank for the 22 riyal issued to  mark the FIFA World Cup, which took place  in the country from 18 November to 20 December. The unusual denomination was chosen to align with the 22nd football tournament taking place in 2022.

The note, which is printed on De La Rue’s SAFEGUARD®, is not only the first commemorative banknote to be issued in Qatar, but the first to be produced on polymer.

Images on the front of the note include the Qatar coat of arms, a skyline of modern and old buildings, and the Lusail Iconic Stadium. The reverse depicts Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, an Arab sailing ship (dhow) and Al Zubara Fort.

Also featured are the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo and the World Cup Trophy, which appear in transparent windows and can be seen from both sides of the notes.

In addition to the banknote awards, a special achievement award was made to the Central Bank of Egypt in recognition of its new state-of-the-art printworks and cash centre, which has arisen from the Egyptian desert outside Cairo at an incredible pace and on a vast scale.

As the authority overseeing the country’s financial system and currency, the Central Bank of Egypt embraced the opportunity to relocate its headquarters and create a new large-scale currency hub in the New Administrative Capital, complete with printworks and a connected automated cash management centre.

The printworks is currently capable of producing 5 billion notes per year. The cash centre can handle up to 20 million notes per day, but is scalable to up to 100 milion notes per year. The new complex was completed in five years, with work continuing during the pandemic, and formally opened last year.

Celebrating Innovation in Identity and Travel Documents

In addition to the awards for banknotes, the regional ID Document of the Year Awards were presented at the ceremony, giving the industry an opportunity to celebrate this year’s Best New Passport, Best New National ID Card and Best New ID or Travel Document – along with special recognition awards for Egypt and Turkey.

Best New Passport

The winner of the Best New Passport was the new Swiss Passport, launched at the end of October 2022, which was designed by Geneva-based creative agency Retinaa SA, and is inspired by rural Swiss scenes.

According to a spokesperson from Switzerland’s Federal Office of Police (Fedpol), the designs ‘invite you on a virtual journey through Switzerland’s 26 cantons, from the Alpine peaks down to the valleys.’

Unlike its predecessors, this passport includes ‘a page dedicated to The Fifth Switzerland’. This refers to the community of Swiss nationals living abroad.

Best New National ID Card – Joint

The quality of entries for the Best New National ID Card category was so high this year that it seemed unfair to have to decide between the top two entrants – so it was agreed to make this a joint award.

For the new Slovene Biometric Identity Card, the Slovene Ministry of the Interior, the Slovene Ministry of Public Administration and CETIS wanted to create the most sophisticated identity card that the current technology, security design and international standards would allow.

The new ID Card has strengthened security for easier identification and border crossing, outstanding design (inspired by Slovenian nature, history, culture and sport and compatible with other Slovene documents), state-of-the-art technology and a wide range of functionalities enabling secure and reliable electronic identification and electronic signatures.

The highest security level and the advanced functionalities of the new ID card are ensured by 34 security elements, including a chip and a photograph generated using three different techniques, as well as a transparent window where, next to the photograph, the initials of the individual’s name and their surname appear.

The Slovene Biometric Identity Card shares the Best New National ID Card with the second-generation Emirates ID Card. The introduction of the high-tech ID card is part of the ongoing upgrade of Emirati passports and national ID cards. The new identity documents have key innovations that aim to combat identity theft and bring additional safety for travellers and citizens.

The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) explained that the new card has an electronic link directly from the card to the ICA which protects non-visible data and that the chip in the card has a higher storage capacity. The fact that the card is constructed from polycarbonate increases its serviceable life beyond 10 years.

By law, all Emirates citizens and residents must possess an Emirates ID card to get government services, to vote in elections, to use as a travel document to travel within the Gulf Cooperation Council and to pass through the eGates and smart gates at several airports in the UAE.

The card contains an ID number that is unique to the cardholder which now includes professional data, the issuing authority and the bearer’s population group.

Best New ID or Travel Document

The winning entry in this category goes to IDEMIA and the new Latvia driving licence. It is the product of close cooperation between the supplier and the government agency and has resulted in a solution that is user-friendly for both licence holders and law enforcers.

Since January 2023, the residents of Latvia have benefited from a highly-secure driving licence that is ready onsite in approximately 15 minutes. The Road Traffic Safety Directorate (CSDD) of Latvia introduced the new polycarbonate driving licence, which contains LASINK™ Origin―a colour portrait securely embedded in the card, DID™ hologram, a secondary portrait (MLI positive/negative) and polychromatic UV printing.

Personalisation services are decentralised in ten production centres across the country, allowing Latvian residents to obtain a driving licence almost instantly. This is made possible thanks to a complete enrolment solution (hardware and software), including IDstudio―a high resolution photo capture device (for secure colour portraits such as LASINK™ Origin) with a small footprint and desktop personalisation equipment including laser printers with a small footprint and specific software for LASINK™ Origin personalisation.

Special Recognition of Achievement Award

No existing category fully captured the excellent work that IIG and the Egyptian government  have done in modernising the country’s ID system, instead they have been awarded with a Special Recognition of Achievement.

Up to 2008, Egyptian passports were personalised with handwriting and had poor levels of physical and information security but within 15 years Egypt has moved from handwritten passports to biometric ones.

To help achieve this, IIG built and commissioned the NASPS industrial complex, one of the most advanced security printing industrial complexes in the region and the world, with seven factories under one roof – covering the value chain from the production of secure paper to personalisation of biometric ID documents.

Certificate of Achievement Award

The Certificate of Achievement Award was created, for this year, to recognise the dedication of the Republic of Turkey’s Ministry of Treasury and Finance and the Turkish State Mint and Printing House in creating the New Turkish Passport.

Throughout the new passport, there is an impressive attention to detail, no more so than the DOVID elements on the data page that feature e-beam mastering, colourless, nanostructured and interactive holograms, a combination of transparent and metallic diffractive areas and a metallised holographic flag of the country.