New $100 bills issued after years of delays

The updated note has a blue, three-dimensional ribbon, color-shifting ink when you tilt the bill, and an image of an inkwell on the front. Missing is the dark ring around Benjamin Franklin’s head.

The new pale blue design isn’t aimed at aesthetics – instead, it’s a security measure to combat counterfeiting.

“I think that with technology advancements, they want to stay ahead of the curve,” says POLITICO Pro banking reporter Kate Davidson. “Again, it’s all about security. So, they wanted to launch this redesign process now so that they can really deter counterfeit operations going forward.”

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve will begin pumping out a stockpile of new notes. The cost to mass produce the roughly 3.5 billion new bills is $437 million. The new bill costs 12.5 cents to produce, compared with 6.5 cents for the most recent design. It’s an investment at home to combat counterfeiting here and abroad.

“About two-thirds of the $100 bills in circulation are overseas, so they’re a big target for counterfeiting,” Davidson says.

The opportunities for crime are nearly endless – the $100 bill is the second most popular bill, which means there are more than 8.5 billion notes in circulation worldwide.

Phasing out the old bill will take years, according to the Fed. A spokesman says the average life of a $100 bill is 15 years, compared with five to ten years for smaller bills.