New Australian $50 note (signature side)

This was what mother called "new money"

Reserve Bank reveals new design for Australia’s $50 note

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has released images of the new design for Australia’s $50 note – the first redesign since 1995. Key aspects of the existing design – colour, size and people portrayed – have been retained for ease of recognition and to minimise the disruption to businesses. It will be issued from October 2018, while the existing series of banknotes will remain legal tender.

Designed by emerystudio, the new banknote continues to celebrate two distinguished Australians – Aboriginal writer and inventor David Unaipon and the first female member of an Australian parliament, Edith Cowan. Their work is recognised in several design elements, including excerpts from Unaipon’s book Legendary Tales of the Australian Aborigines, and Edith Cowan’s maiden parliamentary speech.

New $50 note (serial side)
New $50 note (serial side)

Other design elements which tell their stories include shields from Unaipon’s Ngarrindjeri nation, and a picture of the King Edward Memorial Hospital, a women’s and maternity hospital that Cowan helped establish.

The banknote also has more anti-counterfeit security features, such as a distinctive top-to-bottom clear window, patches with a rolling colour effect, and fluorescent ink which is only visible under UV light. You can read all about the new design and security features on the RBA website.

Below are before (left) and after (right) images of the $50 note. Drag the sliders to compare them.

Old $50 note (signature side)New $50 note (signature side)
Old $50 note (serial side)New $50 note (serial side)

The new design is third in line in the progressive update of all five Australian banknotes. The Reserve Bank announced the new series in 2015, and promised a new tactile feature to help the visually impaired identify the different denominations, after a successful campaign led by 13-year-old blind boy Connor McLeod to introduce the feature.

Each banknote in the new series will also depict a different species of Australian wattle and a native bird. On the $50 note, these are the Acacia humifusa and the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus).

It’s been a rocky start for the release of the new series which began with the $5 note in 2016, followed by the $10 note in 2017. The world-first clear strip which runs through the top and bottom of the note caused the notes to be rejected in banknote authenticating equipment such as those in self-service checkouts, vending machines and gaming machines.

In a statement to News.com.au, RBA assistant governor of banking services, Lindsay Boulton, admitted that not all machines would be compatible with the $50 note on day one, despite banknote equipment manufacturers and operators being aware of the rollout. “We’ve been talking to [them] for 10 years now,” said Boulton. “It’s entirely a business call by them as to when they upgrade their machines. In some regions, some particular operators make a decision not to upgrade their machines until saturation levels and customer usage is such that it warrants them.” Boulton added that the new $5 note released in September 2016 has “only just reached 55% saturation”.

The RBA has already conducted a number of trials and the early distribution of test notes to help machine manufacturers and operators update their equipment. The release of the note design in advance is to facilitate ongoing work with the industry as well as staff training to ensure a smooth transition later this year. “The most recent advice we’ve had from them is that we’re tracking well with their plans to upgrade,” said Boulton.