Armored pieces of art: Oberthur Fiduciaire wants to lead the way in banknote printing

Security printing companies like Oberthur Fiduciaire are focusing the most on developing measures that can make banknote counterfeiting almost impossible. Their R&D expenses for this purpose, which central banks from the world over consider a strategic priority, give them a strong case for themselves. But banknotes must not only be secure. They must be meaningful, too.

Obertur FiduciaireThe French company Oberthur Fiduciaire is riding high among banknote printing world leaders. Founded in 1842 by printer and lithographer Francois-Charles Oberthur, the company acquired an unquestionable innovation culture over time. At the core of it, is a constantly repeated need for protection against counterfeiting.

As a matter of fact, “with the rise of computer technology, and the democratization of high performance printing means and CAD tools, counterfeiting is less and less a question of pure talent. The time of “artists” working in the background of a garage is over”, says Oberthur Fiduciaire’s CEO, Thomas Savare. “Counterfeiters have become more professional and organized” to such an extent that behind each gang of forgers, one inevitably finds engineers, he adds.

This is why Oberthur Fiduciaire constantly strives to remain a good length ahead of them. The security of banknotes being a non-negotiable dimension of central banks requirements, developing security features for banknotes has become an integral part of the job, or even a condition for survival of the company itself. The company lately patented 6 new technologies for banknotes security.

In the words of Thomas Savare, CEO of Oberthur Fiduciaire: “There can’t be only one security feature that prevents counterfeiting. For us, we use a collection of different barriers to fight potential forgers. There are a lot of technologies used to make the paper itself, the threads, the fibers, the printing techniques.”

“Security printing is a very technology-intensive industry”, says Thomas Savare. While technology has no doubt been behind the development of the security tools and their corresponding patents, it is an undeniable fact that without the culture of innovation in the company, these developments would not have been possible. “When it comes to strategy, we have to master the printing techniques themselves, but we also have to master the job of integrating different technologies, different substrates and different security features”, says Savare.

Bank note security technologies that Oberthur Fiduciaire has developed include features like iridescence, intaglio and other optical effects. “Our business is evolving constantly because we have to introduce new security features on an ongoing basis” Thomas Savare adds.

It is this drive for innovation and development of new technologies for bank note security that has placed the firm as the official banknote supplier of some of the biggest central banks of the world.

These innovative technologies and security tools developed by the company has helped the company develop a relation of trust with its customers. Since the company deals in banknotes, providing assurance to its customers about the guarantee of security of the notes is critical. While technology is but an assistive factor, this aspect is ensured by Oberthur Fiduciaire through its special skills in design.

“Design is essential because it’s a matter of security and conveys the image of a country. We incorporate the security features into the design” explains Savare. “But there is also an artistic part of it. You have to be able to understand the history and the symbols of a country to create attractive designs tailored to the specific culture”.

In fact the artistry and creativity has been a part of the company ever since its inception, and Oberthur Fiduciaire even claims that a deep understanding of the cultural aspects is a core competency of the company, deep rooted in the company’s rich legacy.

“Oberthur Joseph – the grand-son of the founder, François-Charles Oberthur – was also a wildlife artist of exception. We believe that aesthetics was anchored in the family genes. Today, we seek to cultivate this sense of aesthetics, and put it at the service of cultures worldwide,” says Savare.

According to him, a bank note, being an element of the identity of a nation, should reflect a history, culture, a set of common values and symbols of national pride as illustrious figures or monuments that make sense in the minds of citizens. “In a way, it is also a cohesion instrument,” says Savare.

While taking pride in possessing the “French touch”, coupled with the drive for innovation in security technology and their superiority in cultural understanding when designing banknotes, Oberthur Fiduciaire provided itself a competitive edge that has put it as a global leader in security printing.

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