Money forms the basis of small transactions in our day to day lives. Money is what the economy of the country is all about, it's what makes the world go round. It's the building block of prosperity. It shapes our lives. Money is the name of the game. So where did it all start here in South Africa .......


In 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck arrived by boat in Table Bay, the local people saw the possession of live stock as a sign of wealth. The first form of trade between the locals and the colonists was the exchange on a barter basis of certain items such as copper, beads, tobacco, blankets, brandy and novelties.

During the last quarter of the 18th century paper money was, for the first time, introduced to the Cape. As there was no printing press, all notes until about 1803 had to be hand written. They featured a government fiscal hand-stamp indicating their validity and the authority date of the issue. After 1803, all banknotes were printed abroad and took on the now traditional appearance.

The Zuid-Afrikaanse Reserwebank was founded on 30 June 1921 and immediately monopolised the right to distribute money in the Union of South Africa. The first notes were bilingual. On the one side it was in Dutch and on the other English. In

1928 Dutch was replaced with Afrikaans. After 1932 South African Reserve Bank notes and coins became the only unrestricted means of payment.

In 1948 the Zuid-Afrikaanse Reserwebank became the South African Reserve Bank. All banknotes were to be undersigned by the existing Governor of the Reserve Bank.


The South African Bank Note Company (Pty) Ltd. was established on 21 May 1958 by the South African Reserve Bank. This was done in partnership with Bradbury Wilkinson, a British company who provided the necessary technical expertise and seconded people to South Africa to work in key positions to get the Company off the ground.

Dr Gerhard Rissik was appointed the first Chairman of the newly created South African Bank Note Company (Pty) Ltd. During his Chairmanship, he also became the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank and the Company started printing banknotes for South Africa for the first time in 1963. In 1961, South Africa had introduced decimalised currency for the first time. One rand, being equivalent to 100 cents, replaced the South African Pound/Shilling system at an exchange rate of 100 cents = 10 shillings. In 1969 the South African Bank Note Company became a wholly owned subsidiary of the South African Reserve Bank.


Continuous and guaranteed protection of the complex, personnel, the product and last but not least, the reputation of the South African Reserve Bank are of primary importance. The responsibility for ensuring the maintenance of this integrity is vested in two departments namely Protective Services and Product Control.

The Protective Services Department protects the Company by maintaining strict access control concerning employees, visitors and the delivery of all materials to the site. The employment of highly motivated and well-trained staff and the utilisation of modern hi-tech systems and equipment achieve this.

The Product Control Department is the custodian of all product and other strategically important materials used in the manufacturing process. Dual control and strict accuracy of all transactions as well as constant surveillance to secure the product are key assignments.


The South African Bank Note Company has the equipment, staff and technical ability to produce sophisticated currency and security documents to individual customer specification. Advanced technology and expertise enable the Company to integrate the most modern features designed to outsmart the counterfeiter.

Quality Control

Samples of all raw materials to be used in the manufacturing process are tested in modern laboratory facilities. Production floor conditions are replicated to ensure that our required standards are maintained and that the materials are of the highest quality. In addition, these persons are responsible for monitoring the environmental needs of the factory floor area, where humidity and temperature are critical elements of the production process.

The manufacturing process

The customised substrate is first unwrapped in a secure, temperature controlled, environment. It is then counted through under dual control, by Product Control, to the litho section for the for the first stage of printing, which is the lithographic process.


This is where some of the sophisticated security features are added to the customised substrate to protect the currency or value document. Complex multicolour patterns in perfect registration are printed simultaneously on both sides of the substrate, using machinery designed specifically for this purpose.


The Litho process is followed by the Intaglio stage. This process generates the distinctive embossed texture, fine lines and three dimensional effect normally associated with currency notes and security documents.

Custom-made ink is deposited onto a precisely engraved plate and then transferred under extreme pressure against predetermined areas of the offset background. As a security feature Intaglio printing is extremely beneficial, as the effects are difficult to replicate.

Quality Assurance

As part of the ongoing Quality Assurance programme, at SABN, a nota save inspection system has been installed. During the Intaglio printing process, all print deviations, in accordance with the defined quality standards, are automatically detected and logged.

After the product is printed, skilled examiners check each sheet to ensure that all printing is of the highest standard. Good work is separated from that which may reflect a printing blemish. Extremely low waste percentages are maintained by precise fault identification methods to ensure that superior quality is retained.


The sheets are then numbered on computerised rotary letterpress machines, which automatically detect and identify numbering faults. The risk of incorrectly numbered

notes entering circulation is thus eliminated. There is also a precautionary physical pre-examination of all the numbered sheets before they are counted and forwarded to the finishing section for processing into single notes.


This process has two elements, namely: Cutpack and the BPS 2000.

- Cutpack: The cutpack machine cuts, counts and shrink-wraps already separated good work and shrink-wraps it into secure packages ready for despatch. The part waste is subjected to the same process but routed through the BPS machine in the sorting section.

- BPS 2000: The state of the art BPS 2000 note sorting machine automatically sorts, counts and shrink-wraps the good work ready for despatch, with the waste notes being shredded immediately.


To ensure that all machinery and equipment is always kept in excellent working condition and to restrict breakdown times to as short as possible, SABN has its own maintenance department.

This department consists of 4 essential components:

- Engineering

- Electrical

- Electronic

- Premises

where skilled personnel, on a 24-hour basis, maintain the specialised equipment and systems. Computer based maintenance planning and environmental monitoring systems ensure maximum efficiency of all equipment.


The Training and Development Section encourages lifelong learning to enhance employees' contribution to the Company, increase their personal development and maintain interest in their work. The Company strives to give all employees opportunity to develop new strengths, knowledge and skills to meet opportunities ahead.


All staff members at SABN, are able to enjoy Company subsidised meals in a warm and friendly environment.


The South African Bank Note Company is the most technologically advanced security printer on the African continent and can compete with the best in the world.