There are several ways of being French. The “Made in France” is not about mass depersonalized production. Rather, it is about subtle elegance, distinctive design and quality, for which French brands are known all over the world. One can retain the French standards even when it comes to such little-known and somehow secretive industry as security printing, and Oberthur Fiduciaire has been proving it since 1842.
Many people tend to associate France with art since the country is known for its famous artists, architects and engineers. Their legacy lives on, and can be found not only in pieces of art, but also on banknotes. However, unlike museum pieces, the design of a banknote carries a very practical meaning.
“The design of a national currency is important for many reasons, ranging from the philosophical to the pragmatic. Those in charge of designing a new currency must realize that many people see the national currency as a symbol of national independence or a reflection of their political philosophy,” says Richard K. Adams, a researcher and an IMF author. Oberthur Fiduciaire understands this like nobody else, because the sense of beauty has been an integral feature of the company for many years. Joseph Oberthur, the grandson of the company’s founder was a renowned draftsman, specialized in animals, and his artistic spirit is still present in the company’s philosophy. Thomas Savare, current CEO of Oberthur, tells: “He was an exceptional draftsman. One might think that aesthetics is jammed within family genes! Still today, we aim at cultivating this aesthetic sense, which we place at the service of the cultures of the entire world”.
Apart from visual arts, France is a stronghold of the most renowned engineering schools in the world. Thomas Savare is an alumnus of one of them, the Ecole Centrale in Paris. Perhaps that is why R&D has long been an integral part of the company’s manufacturing process.
Oberthur Fiduciaire owns a number of patents for the protection of banknotes and secure documents. Most of them are related to printed security technologies, such as Arc-en-ciel®, a public recognition security feature with moiré effects producing rainbow colors, or Diaphan®, a new generation see-through public recognition security feature, combining iridescence and offset printing. Pixel™ technology, developed by VHP Security Paper, a subsidiary of Oberthur Fiduciaire, deserves a special attention: “VHP Security has been developing new technology watermarks for some time and its Pixel watermark, released just a few years ago, has already been selected by ten countries and features on more than 30 billion banknotes. The technology creates bright areas in the watermark, making it easy to identify and authenticate and more difficult to counterfeit.”
Prevention is better than cure
There’s a saying in France: “Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir”. The literal translation is: Better to anticipate than to heal. This statement perfectly describes Oberthur’s philosophy when it comes to counterfeiting prevention, and it is not about printing technologies only.
Counterfeit protection is a complex process that includes advanced control of the supply chain. The industry standards are high, and first of all it is important to ensure a unified harmonious work of all production processes. The slightest difference in standards can result in a breach that counterfeiters can use for their own purpose.
Responsibility for the fight against scammers lies not only with the relevant law enforcement agencies, but also with the manufacturer. That’s why Oberthur prefers to keep all stages of its production chain under maximum control. For this purpose, the company acquired the aforementioned VHP Security Paper in the summer of 2017.
Having received an opportunity to directly oversee the paper production process, Oberthur Fiduciaire ensured extra security and furthermore consolidated Oberthur Fiduciaire’s position as one of the largest and fastest growing banknote printers, working with over 70 central banks across the globe. Moreover, the fact that Oberthur Fiduciaire keeps its three factories in Europe, all three of which being certified by the European Central Bank and subject to strict anti-corruption standards (ISO 37001), clearly distinguishes the company from other market players. Indeed, full product traceability and transparency of the entire supply chain have become strong requirements from Central Banks.
The Made in France that pays
A couple of years ago the World Economic Forum stated that France was one of the world’s top trendsetter. “It is difficult to overstate the influence France has on the world, both in the past and today… France is one of the world’s oldest countries, and its reach extends around the globe through science, politics, economics and culture,” reads the report. Yet, Made in France means not only something trendy, but also elaborated design, quality, craftsmanship and traceability. It benefits not only customers, but the manufacturers as well, and Oberthur Fiduciaire can personally confirm that this strategy pays off.