The latest reissue of South Afric-a’s five principal banknotes, offi-cially launched in November 2012, serves four main functions, according to the South African Reserve Bank, which produces the notes.
• Commemorating former preside-nt Nelson Mandela, who died in 2013: Mandela’s appearance on the front of all five new notes is further formal recognition of his status as father of the new nation;
• Upgrading the security features of the national currency: Central banks worldwide have to stay one step ahead of the increasi-ngly sophisticated scanners and printers available to counter-feiters;
• Promoting the “big five” big game species —rhinoceros, eleph-ant, lion, buffalp, and leopard – in a country where wildlife conser-vation awareness is rising and safari parks are a major tourist draw; and
• Showcasing each of the coun-try’s official languages, to foster inclusion and cohesion among ethnicities that were once encououraged to develop separately.
Another novel feature of the latest launch is the use of web-sites and social media to promo-te familiarity and acceptance of the new banknotes. South Africa is an emerging economy in a fast process of urbanization, but also with an informal sector that operates outside the formal stru-cture of regulated and tax-paying commerce and employment. Information about sudden changes in currency design may therefore not easily reach such informal actors.