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South Africa’s new R10 banknote is still green, not blue – but you should always check your change

IN SHORT: False claims have been doing the rounds on social media since South Africa’s reserve bank announced changes to the country’s currency. In this case, it is not true that the colour of the R10 note has changed.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) announced in May 2023 that it would be releasing new “upgraded” banknotes and coins into circulation. 

The news has since fuelled speculation from some corners of social media, like this old debunked rumour that resurfaced about the release of a R500 banknote. 

Some posts have claimed that the upgraded R10 banknote is now a blue colour, instead of green. Users say this could leave people vulnerable to short-changing scams, as it could be confused with the R100 note, which is blue. 

(South Africa’s national currency is the rand, abbreviated with the symbol R.)

“Be careful when getting change from various sources now … check the change carefully,” the posts read. 

The warning includes a photo of three notes of different colours, which apparently shows the colour difference between the new and old R10 note. 

The warning was initially sent to our Whatsapp line, but has also appeared on Facebook, like here, shared to a group with over 29,000 members, as well as here, here, here, here, here, here and here

But is the new R10 note really blue instead of green? We looked into it. 


Upgraded security, enhanced colours

May 2023’s upgrade of the country’s notes is the first to be rolled out in a decade. According to the SARB, “globally, banknotes are upgraded every six to eight years”. 

The change, the bank said, was to improve security against counterfeiting and to make it easier to tell the difference between the denominations, especially for people with visual impairments. 

The main changes are to the design and security features. There are new illustrations on the notes, but these are of the same subjects as before, with each note showing one of the “big five” animals on one side – the African elephant, buffalo and lion, as well as the rhinoceros and leopard – and South Africa’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, on the other. 

Security enhancements include a ring of dots on the corner of each note that makes it more difficult to copy, and an updated security strip along the width of the notes. 

Accessibility features have been upgraded, including raised dots on the edge of each note, as well as enhanced colours. Colour changes make the notes “more vibrant”, according to Liziwe Mda, managing director of South Africa Bank Note Company, the SARB subsidiary responsible for printing the country’s banknotes. 

However, the colours of the notes remain broadly the same. “The upgraded banknotes maintain the same denominations, sizes and dominant colours as the existing banknote series,” the SARB said. Crucially, the R10 note remains dominantly green, as before. 

Despite the concern about the public not being able to tell the difference between the R10 and R100 denominations, the introduction of the new notes was in part to make them more easy to distinguish. 

But it’s always important to double check the denomination of a note with other features. The new banknotes have multiple ways to differentiate them aside from colour. 

You can view SARB’s full booklet for a detailed breakdown of all the changes and features of the new banknotes.


Source: The South African Reserve Bank

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