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In New U.S. $100 Note, Ben Franklin Goes High Tech

WASHINGTON -- A newly designed $100 note contains advanced security features to combat counterfeiters, but older $100 notes will remain in circulation after the new currency is released in February 2011, top U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve officials said on Wednesday.

The note retains the traditional look of the U.S. currency, with Benjamin Franklin's portrait, but contains a blue three-dimensional security ribbon with alternating images of bells and the number 100 that change as the viewing angle is tilted. It also has a bell image on the front that changes from copper to green when tilted.

"As with previous U.S. currency redesigns, this note incorporates the best technology available to ensure we're staying ahead of counterfeiters," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

The $100 note is the most often counterfeited denomination of U.S. currency outside the United States due to its wide circulation. It is the highest-denominated note issued by the Federal Reserve.

In recent years, U.S. officials have been trying to combat the continued production of extremely high-quality counterfeit $100 notes they say are produced in North Korea, dubbed the "supernote," which are undetectable to nearly all but the most sophisticated currency experts.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a statement that unlike in the past when most cash dollars were held domestically, as many as two thirds of the $890 billion in Federal Reserve notes now in circulation are outside the United States.

He said U.S. officials will work to educate people around the world about the new design, but added that older notes will remain in circulation.

"It is important to understand when the new design $100 note is issued on February 10, 2011, the approximately 6.5 billion older design $100s already in circulation will remain legal tender," Bernanke added. "U.S. currency users should know they will not have to trade in their older design $100 notes when the new ones begin circulating."

Bernanke added that the $100 note was important to the U.S. economy.

"A sound currency is the bedrock of a sound economy. Therefore, the United States government must stay ahead of counterfeiters and protect the integrity of our currency," he said.