The Reserve Bank of India on Sunday announced a new series of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 bank notes that would make it easier for the visually impaired to differentiate between various denominations. Very noble, but in a country that has more Internet users than the US population and the second fastest-growing Internet growth base–most by access to cellphones–it’s high time that the RBI thought up apps such as LookTel (for the Iphone) and IDEAL currency-identifier for Android, that identifies notes with a quick camera scan.
The RBI says that existing notes have over the years evolved to be easier to the touch. So other than the distinct colours and the general rule of larger the denomination, the larger the size of the bank-note, other features include: An identification mark on the left-hand side of each note which is in raised print (intaglio) and has different shapes for different denominations. There is thus a diamond for â‚¹ 1000, circle for â‚¹ 500, triangle for â‚¹ 100, square for â‚¹ 50, a rectangle for â‚¹ 20 and none for â‚¹ 10.
These new notes are yet to be released, so we don’t know the extent to which these modifications will impress end-users. One early test doesn’t seem encouraging. It is still however a mystery, why India’s notes don’t incorporate a Braille-system of raised dots on the notes, akin to the simple and elegant Canadian, tactile currency.