Currency Note Tracking – Myth or Reality?


Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1000 banknotes would be withdrawn from the financial system, saying it was part of a crackdown on corruption.

The Reserve Bank of India is introducing new design banknotes in the denomination of Rs 2000 as part of Mahatma Gandhi (New) Series. Social media circulated messages about new notes that may have surprising tracking technologies like nano GPS etc.

We decided to fact-find the system for existing technologies for the same, and we found that it is far from reality to have a GPS fitted on notes (smallest available GPS unit is of this size)

How does a currency note tracking system work?

  • Currency note tracking is the process of tracking the movements of banknotes, similar to how ornithologists track migrations of birds by ringing them.
  • A user may register a note by entering its serial number, and if someone else has already registered the note, then the “route” of the note can be displayed.
  • A system and method(1) is presented for tracking and tracing currency bills involved in deposit and withdrawal transactions. A transaction identifier is obtained. Currency bills involved in the transaction are scanned in order to obtain their serial numbers. The serial numbers are then linked to the transaction identifier.
  • Thus the overall cashflow by using its transaction identifier and serial number.

This system is very tedious and almost impossible to implement!

Hidden Cash Tracking System (Location Tracking)2

A passive Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader’s  radio waves and release the information of the particular object and it dosent need any power source.A passive radio frequency identification (RFID) system can be used to authenticate, identify, and sum currency amounts.

This device includes

  1. A paper-like passive RFID transponder which could be embedded in a currency or used as the currency itself, and which contains encrypted/non-encrypted electronic bits of data (serial number, currency amounts, etc.) to uniquely identify said currency.
  2. A transceiver for wireless interrogation of the transponder.
  3. A computer server and/or database management system that is used for currency authentication to a known currency information database.

The passive RFID transponder is paper-like, robust, and could be printed as a currency, or embedded in a currency. The transceiver sends an electromagnetic signal, which is picked up by the passive transponder in the currency. The passive RFID transponder in said currency uses the energy of the electromagnetic signal via electromagnetic coupling (backscatter) to transmit its serial number, currency denomination, and other desired encrypted/non-encrypted information back to the transceiver.

As described in the above information, there is an existence of technologies and the researchers already have proven that before a decade, so there must be a possibility of tracking and tracing system of currency notes and RBI is having the perfect time to introduce these technology, but  government may not be talking about this openly for “obvious reasons” –what’s the point if people get to know about it. That reason doesn’t cut much ice with us either. Once the note is in circulation, we will get to know anyway.

But yes, there’s no Nano GPS!


[1] Currency note tracking system:

[2] RFID Patent:

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