CALGARY - Some bewildered Canadians have greeted them as funny money, but the Bank of Canada wants you to know they're counterfeit-fighters.
When the new polymer $100 notes appeared last November to replace their paper counterparts, some balked, said Ted Mieszkalski, regional spokesman for the Bank of Canada (BoC).
So the country's monetary overseers want to make certain Canadians have currency confidence when the updated version of the $20 note -- easily the most numerous -- begin circulating late this year, he said.
"There is that 'wow' factor and the 'What is that?' question," Mieszkalski said.
"They're distinctly different in feeling ... we're trying to educate the citizenry."
Last March, the updated $50 note appeared with its transparent column opposite the face of former prime minister Mackenzie King.
The most prolific denomination of paper money, the twenty, will carry a more current likeness of Queen Elizabeth II on the front, and on its back an image of the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.
Canadians were consulted on how they wanted their new generation of money to look, and the Vimy theme proved a popular one, said Mieszkalski.
"Vimy came to symbolize the many Canadian lives lost in conflict," he said.
Currently, the $20 notes comprise about half of all $1.6 billion Canadian bills in currency.
Each new polymer bills costs 19 cents to manufacture, but on top of being harder to fake, will last 2-1/2 times longer, said Mieszkalski.
"It's coming from a security and durability standpoint," he said, adding counterfeiting in Canada has fallen by 90% since 2004.
Polymer $5 and $10 bills will come into use by late 2013.
About 30 other countries around the world use the same substance in at least some of their notes.
On Twitter @SUNBillKaufmann