Small country introducing plastic coins

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You've heard of countries adopting plastic currency, to replace paper money. How about plastic coins, to replace metal?

It's hard to believe but true. The tiny republic of Transnistria is introducing composite coins that it claims are difficult to counterfeit.

Extra credit goes to Plastics Blog readers who have heard of Transnistria before, or by its other names including the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic.

I confess I had not heard of it before today, and I had to look it up to make sure it's a real place. Indeed, Transnistria is real. Not like Freedonia or Fenwick.

Transnistria is located on the Dniester River, between Moldova and Ukraine. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, it is not recognized by any United Nations member state, but it has a government, national anthem, flag, postal system ... and currency.

And that's where the plastic comes in.

According to News of Pridnestrovia, the country's official information agency, the Republican Bank of Pridnestrovie introduced composite coins with face values of 1, 3, 5 and 10 Transnistrian rubles on Aug. 22. The coins were minted in Russia, and the designs have some unique features: various geometric patterns; special tactual properties; luminescence when exposed to infrared and ultraviolet rays; and elements with selective infrared absorption, according to the report: "New monetary units in circulation."

The story does not identify the composite materials used to make the coins, but notes that they are "characterized by a higher degree of strength and durability, which will limit (or even exclude) the potential for counterfeiting."

I don't imagine that counterfeiting Pridnestrovian rubles would be a profitable undertaking, with the exchange rate set at 11 rubles to one U.S. dollar. But many nations already use plastic banknotes in much larger denominations, and the anti-counterfeiting technologies available to plastics converters are substantial and quite effective.

Perhaps these plastic coins will catch on — with Transnistria leading the way.