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Banknote counter

Banknote Counter
A modern baknote counter with counterfeit-detection capabilities.

Historical information
Year introduced



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Production information
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A banknote counter or bill counter is a device that was designed mainly to accurately count several banknotes at once. Additionally, a banknote counter may also sort banknotes into batches and check for notes that are damaged or counterfeited.


The first automatic banknote counting machines were introduced during the 1920s by the Federal Bill Counter Company in Washington, D.C. They were originally designed to increase efficiency in tellers of the Federal Reserve Bank and to reduce human error. The machine would stop once a set or "batch" of notes was reached, which allowed a teller to insert a wooden block which kept the sets separated.[1]

Modern banknote counters use a technology created by Tokyo Calculating Machine Works in Shinagawa, introducing it in 1962. This new version quickly dominated the market because of its increased speed and accuracy.[2]

During 1981, computer friction banknote counters were introduced in the form of the REI high-speed machine, which accelerated the counting of notes to 72,000 notes per hour and the elimination of manual sorting and counting. This machine could also sort notes according to value and remove counterfeit of heavily damaged notes.[3] Many of these features are still present today in banknote counters, some of which have the capability of detecting a banknote's security features (e.g. magnetic ink, ultraviolet ink, magnetic strip, note density, etc.) to identify notes that are counterfeit or damaged.[4]

Extra features that preside over everyday contact with cash may also be present. For example, additions functions, batch functions, and format recognition are present in modern-day banknote counters.


Weight-based counting[]

Systems based on weight exist, and can count both banknotes and coins on the same machine, but are usually used to count much smaller quantities of banknotes and do not sort or check for counterfeit or damaged notes.

Weight-based counters do not examine each coin or banknote separately, but work using finely calibrated loadcells to weigh numerous notes or coins using a stored weight to perform a digital calculation of how much pieces it has been presented with. Machines like this often used complex equations to take into consideration the natural variation between banknotes and coins.

These types of counters are usually small in size, and are used often on the desktops of bank tellers to check customer deposits or withdrawals or by retailers to count money that is on the shop floor. Although the capability of a weight-based counting device varies by its model, usually they can count both notes and coins and check standard bank bundles or bags or rolls of coins to make sure they are correct.

Counterfeit detection[]

Many banknote counters have counterfeit protection measures built into them. The most common of these are Ultraviolet (UV) and Magnetic (MG) detection, used to detect the ultraviolet properties of banknotes inserted as well as the magnetic ink simultaneously as it counts the currency. Most of these counters will stop and alert the user if a counterfeit bill is detected.[5]


  1. Wells, Donald (2004) The Federal Reserve System: A History (Chapter 6) New York: Digital Vision
  2. Tavlas, George S. and Yuzuru Ozeki (1992) The Internationalization of Currencies: An Appraisal of the Japanese Yen (Occasional Paper (Intl Monetary Fund)) Washington: International Monetary Fund
  5. "Bill Counter Guide & Counterfeit Detection". Retrieved 2009-09-10.