Anti-counterfeit protection as a showcase of a state

How is Czech currency protected against counterfeiting? On banknotes such as 100 CZK and 200 CZK you can find basic measures (metallic stripe and watermark) but no advanced protective elements. Nothing like security inks or even a security hologram. A detailed description is available here. For comparison look at the new fiver and you can see a difference at least two technological generations.

If the difference was caused by budget limitations or short-term underestimation of the issue, there was no need to discuss it length. However, it looks rather as the general attitude of the Czech government. Polycarbonate cards are now, in fact, a standard around the world and in the Czech Republic, old papers with almost no protection are still circulating. Cigarette tax stamps can be imitated in most up to date printing companies. Even high-value banknotes are not protected in line with world standards. It does not help that some countries are even worse.

You can reverse the question and ask why states such as the United Kingdom invest so much into anti-counterfeit protection. Production of one five pound banknote costs about seven pounds, which creates a reliable barrier against any falsification attempt. The costs are partly compensated with a longer lifecycle of the plastic fiver, but the main differences insist on attitude towards citizens.

It seems British administration still understands that creating an environment of trust for its citizens is its first and basic task. The user looks at a document, checks a personal card, accepts money, accepts goods equipped with a state issued stamp… in all of these situations, he/she can be absolutely sure that everything is all right.  Is is critical that this confidence is easily available to all people, not just to state agencies employees equipped with database access and forensic measures.

It requires that state issued documents:

  • Cannot be imitated with reasonable effort and costs
  • Can be distinguished from fakes by ordinary user in a few seconds

It is not impossible. Necessary technologies are available within generally available commercial products.

To make it clear, it is not about an impact of a fake stamp. It is about general confidence. Is it important for a government? How much is it valued? By the way, it is something connected to a justice system situation. Those governments who invest into document protection often also see as a key priority that courts decide fast and transparently.


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