The Right Choice?

By Tod Niedeck, Global Marketing Director

Making right choices is a key ingredient for success. While central banks rightly see Crane Currency as a seller, we are as much a buyer and during the prior year, Crane Currency together with its sister company CPI spent over $1 billion in goods, services, salaries and in developing new technologies. As with all companies, our spending choices can be considered investments in the company’s future. So how does Crane Currency ensure its choices are the right ones?  Especially when it comes to security technologies, we do this in four ways:  


We test, test and test. 

Not surprisingly, people working in central banks tend to be a law-abiding group. This obedience and reverence to the law however can create a blind spot. Recall the terrible attacks of “9-11” in the US. An inability to anticipate and avert them was in part due to a “failure of imagination”. We are not motivated by crime, but our jobs include making choices about the technologies and features that deter the crime of counterfeiting. Doing this well requires us to test, test and test but in the same way a criminal does. The process which has us thinking and testing like a counterfeiter we call Counterfeit Risk Analysis. 

We prefer measures over opinions. 

Grace M. Hopper, US Navy Rear Admiral and mathematician, once said that “one accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” When we are confronted by a new feature or technology, we might think it looks good, but what about non-experts? Might we overestimate the importance of our expert opinion and by extension the usefulness of a feature to the public? Thankfully, we can augment our own expertise with science. Secure Perception Research (SPR) is a company that through public perception testing, helps us to better understand the counterfeit protection value of different technologies. Experts like Prof. Jane Raymond of SPR are experienced in capturing qualitative and quantitative data on the public’s use of security features. This helps us to choose features we know will work for the public.    

The Jellyfish Nautical RAPID thread

We prioritise collaborative customization. 

Some technologies can deliver the Voice of the Customer directly into the most secure part of a feature. When Crane Currency wanted to develop a house note using an Ocean theme, we used a RAPID® security thread customized with wave movement and a pulsing nautilus shell. This is a perfect example of what we refer to as collaborative customization, a description used by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II in their 1997 paper the Four Faces of Mass Customization.  


Bug note RAPID Detect thread

Another customization type is cosmetic. The Crane “Bug Note” includes a “creepy crawly” moving effect in its RAPID security thread to reflect its insect theme (our Voice of the Customer). While this RAPID security thread is the same width as the one used in the Ocean note there is virtually no similarity in appearance. It is the nature of micro-optics that makes this possible. For the Bug Note’s printed feature, we used cosmetic customization to form the optically variable ink into the outline of a scarab beetle – a nice cosmetic fit to the note.


The SPARK scarab

The printed feature’s color change and pattern are used in many banknotes, so the designer must use their skill and ingenuity (cosmetic customization) to have the feature reflect the banknote’s theme. Crane uses features that can be customized both ways, but as a buyer, we prefer to invest in features that allow for collaborative customization so we can deliver voice of customer directly and uniquely into the feature that protects their banknotes.  


We listen more and talk less. 

While the phrase ‘listen more, talk less’ is common to Sales training, it is also an important attribute in helping to make good choices in investments and partners. Recently, the Central Bank of The Bahamas issued its upgraded $10 banknote. This banknote is interesting not because it was printed by Crane Currency, but for the cooperation that preceded it. 

When Crane Currency approached the opportunity to participate in this new series, we listened politely and then suggested to the Bank our preferred solution. However, we did not fully understand the Bank’s motivations, at least at first. And we should have, The Central Bank of The Bahamas spelled it out in the name they gave to the new series: the CRISP evolution – an acronym for Counterfeit-Resistant Integrated Security Product. 

This understanding led us to work cooperatively with two of our competitors – Landqart and Canadian Banknote Company. An extensive, technical cooperation that serves as one of the best examples of its kind within the industry – and one that we will see more of to deliver to central banks more choices and the creation of better banknotes.