Germany prints paper currency for 60 different countries, and Canada makes coins for 62
The British government crippled Muammar Qaddafi’s attempt to fund his faltering regime this week by impounding nearly $1.5 billion worth of Libyan dina rs, which had been printed under contract by a British firm. Wait, how many countries outsource their currency?
Half the world. Between 10 and 20 percent of all bank notes around the globe are printed by private companies, such as the U.K.’s De La Rue, the Canadian Banknote Company, Giesecke & Devrient in Germany, and Crane, a printer working in Sweden and Massachusetts. Of the world’s 171 currency-issuing authorities—there are more countries than currencies, because of the EU and an economic union of West African countries—around 50 percent outsource some portion of their printing needs. Giesecke & Devrient, for example, prints currency for five dozen countries, and Canadian Banknote fills orders for 20. (There may be overlap in those numbers. Central banks sometimes split production of different denominations between companies.) It’s impossible to compile a complete list of outsourcers, though, because many governments don’t like to talk about the practice, and the printing houses refuse to release their client lists. Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Bahrain, and Qatar are known to outsource all of their printing. Controversy erupted in India last year when its outsourcing became public. The Philippines has been ordering notes from abroad for years, with mixed results. In 2005, the French company Oberthur misspelled the president’s name on some of the bills.”