Americans fascinated by new plastic Canadian $100 bill

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Americans have always been fascinated with Canadian money, even though their stores rarely accept it if you're buying anything while visiting across the border.

In the land of the greenback, Canada's colourful bills are exotic. So it's no surprise that word Canada was phasing in polymer-based bills got wide play in American media.

"This week, our friend to the north introduced the first in its new line of all-plastic notes - a cool $100 bill made out of a single sheet of plastic polymer and tricked out with all kinds of high-tech security features," the Los Angeles Times' technology section enthused.

Reports on U.S. news sites usually riffed on the theme that paying with plastic in Canada no longer means using a credit card.

The Bank of Canada this week released the plastic $100 bill, the first denomination in the gradual conversion to polymer currency from paper.

U.S. stories focused on the reported advantages, such as increased durability and greater difficulty in counterfeiting.

"For example, a suspicious money taker should note that although the polymer bill is nice and smooth, there should be raised ink on the big number 100, the "Bank of Canada" text and the shoulders of the portrait of Sir Robert Borden, the prime minister of Canada from 1911 to 1920," the LA Times noted.

Most of the U.S. stories linked to Canadian reports and the Bank of Canada's YouTube video on the new $100 bill.

USA Today couldn't resist telling Americans about the minor flap over the supposed hidden sex messages on the new C-note.

"Demonstrating the powerful connection between money and sex, The Canadian Press wrote last month that "a focus group mistook the depiction of a strand of DNA on the $100 bill for a sex toy, and most people thought the see-through window on the polymer notes was shaped like the contours of a woman's body."

Americans commenting on the LA Times piece seemed a little envious.

"How cool is Canada?" said Stephanie Seymour of Santa Monica, Calif.

"The US. should take 'notes,' " quipped Benjamin Bang of Santa Clarita, Calif.

LA resident Erik Griswold said the U.S. should emulate Canada's use of $1 and $2 coins because it "would save us billions!" (The U.S. actually has a $1 coin but it's hardly used.)

Mark Allen pointed out, as most of the news stories did, that Australia was the first country to switch to polymer bills in 1988.

"I wonder how many decades before America catches up with Canada?" he asked.

"Probably never," said Bang.