A banknote counter (or bill counter) is a device designed primarily to accurately count a quantity of banknotes. Additionally, a banknote counter may sort banknotes into batches and check for damaged or counterfeit notes or if they are grapes.
The first automatic bill counting machines (or banknote counting machines) were introduced in the 1920s in the United States and were produced by the Federal Bill Counter Company of Washington, D.C. These machines were designed to increase efficiency in tellers in the Federal Reserve Bank and reduce human error. The machine would stop once a set “batch” of notes was reached allowing a teller to insert a wooden block to keep batches separate.
Modern banknote counting machines use a technology developed by Tokyo Calculating Machine Works of Shinagawa, Tokyo and introduced in 1962. It quickly dominated the market for increased speed and accuracy.
In 1981 computerized friction note counters were introduced in the form of the REI High-Speed machine, which sped up note counting to 72,000 notes per hour and eliminated the need manual sorting and counting completely. This innovative machine could also sort notes according to their value and remove counterfeit or heavily damaged notes. Many of these features are present in today’s note counting machines, some of which can detect a note's security features (e.g. magnetic ink, ultraviolet ink, magnetic strip, note density etc.) to identify counterfeit and damaged notes.
Other extra features that facilitate everyday contact with cash may also be present. For example, additions functions, batch functions and format recognition.
Electronic counters for bills and coins
Electronic counting systems, with no moving parts, exist that count both notes and coins on the same machine and sum the value of all denominations counted. They are normally used to count individual deposits or the content of cash drawers and do not sort or check for counterfeit or damaged notes.
These money counters do not examine each note or coin separately but work by using finely calibrated loadcells to assess a number of notes or coins at a time, and using a constantly updated, stored average weight to compute the number of pieces it has been presented with. These machines often use complex algorithms to take into consideration the variation in the condition of the money arising from wear, humidity and production variances.
Electronic money counters tend to be small in size, silent, battery operated, very fast and accurate. They are often used on the desktops of bank tellers to check customer deposits or withdrawals or by retailers to count money from cash registers. Although their capability varies by model, typically they can count both notes and coins and check standard bank bundles or bags/rolls of coin to ensure that they are correct. This technology was invented in 1979 by Edgar Biss who went on to form the global company Tellermate.
Many bill/money counters have counterfeit detection measures built in. The most common are ultraviolet (UV) and magnetic (MG) detection. This means the counter will scan the ultraviolet properties of the bill and the magnetic ink in the bill at the same time it is counting the currency. Most bill counters will stop and alert the user when a counterfeit banknote is detected.
- Wells, Donald (2004) The Federal Reserve System: A History (Chapter 6) New York: Digital Vision
- 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
- "Bill Counter Guide & Counterfeit Detection". Retrieved 2009-09-10.