Good things come in small packages
Good things come in small packages: The new 10-franc note is poised to conquer the retail trade. Photo: SNB

"Small is beautiful" is now also true of the banknotes. Today at 10.00am the Swiss National Bank presented the youngest baby in the new banknote series: the 10-franc note – the smallest note they have every issued. Perfectly dimensioned at 123x70mm, it is a whole two millimeters shorter than the 5-franc note that was in circulation from 1913 to 1952. The key motif depicted on the little beauty is "time", which was chosen by the National Bank to focus on Switzerland's "organizational talent".

Not available at most ATMs

The small size comes in handy for wallets and cash registers. But what about the ATMs? Only very few cash points dispense the neat little banknote. The UBS bank machines can only accept the 10-franc notes as a deposit. "The size is actually not the problem. We have already modified our ATMs to deal with the new banknote series," says Thomas Grieder, the man in charge of ATMs at the bank. All ATMS with a deposit function first have to be reconfigured to accept the new note formats, safety features and other materials. So it is good for the banks that a new banknote series only comes out every 20 years on average!

October 18 is the National Bank’s big changeover day, on which the new 10-franc note will become available – and the old one withheld. But how does the National Bank get the notes into the hands of Mr and Mrs Swiss, if they can’t be dispensed via ATMs? The 10-franc notes are available at bank and post-office counters. But it is the retail trade above all that uses and circulates the new notes – in the form of change given to customers. National Bank spokesman Walter Meier is optimistic: "We are assuming that public interest in the new 10-franc note will be much the same as what we saw with the new 20 and 50 franc notes."

The littl’un is followed by a biggie

As far as the thickness is concerned, the youngest addition to the family is no different to its older siblings, the 50 and 20 franc notes. All the new notes weigh slightly more than their predecessors. This is because they are no longer paper money. Instead, the banknotes are printed on a three-layer Durasafe substrate: two outer layers of cotton paper reinforced with a polymer core in between. This does make them slightly stiff, but also secure and strong. There is a good chance that they will survive for longer in circulation than the old notes did.

There remains the question of which new note will be issued next – but that’s easily answered: The littl’un will be followed by a biggie, the 200-franc note.