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COUNTERFEIT NOTES DO NOT STAND A CHANCE WITH PHOTOVOX’S DEVICES
Photovox, based in Italy, is one of the few companies in the world to have been selected by the European Central Bank as a technical consultant to determine the security features of Euro banknotes. The company was founded in 1951 and is headquartered at Valperga in the municipality of Turin. It started out in the manufacture of magnetic heads but gradually proved its excellence in the field of monetics and cash handling. Photovox’s product offer currently includes a vast range of portable and desktop banknote detectors and counters that not only check the ink but also read the magnetic thread in the paper money. Close relations with the ECB is a strong “plus” for the Italian company which updates its inspection devices whenever innovations in banknote security features are introduced in Frankfurt.
With an export share of around 33%, the company attained a turnover in 2008 of approximately 3.8 million Euros. Giuseppe Ferrara, the general manager, explained: “Our main markets are all the countries in the Eurozone where we sell most of our banknote inspection devices.” The company’s sales network extends to all those countries where the Euro is the official currency. The General Manager added: “In China, South Korea, Japan and the United States we have commercial relations with customers who purchase just the inspection sensors, effectively the “core” of our detectors, and install them on their own machinery.” It would seem that this strategy would meet with competition. Ferrara, however, dispels this notion. “The sensors we supply are mounted on all kinds of machines, such as the large banknote counters, which are much bigger than our standard ones and are therefore ones we do not manufacture.”
Photovox’s machines do not just check the validity of money: they can count and recognize the numbers on inspected banknotes to calculate total value. They are also “smart” as they do not give the operator the choice of whether or not to accept a suspicious banknote, as in the case with ultraviolet lights. The machine indicates the value of the detected banknote on the display and there is both a sound and light signal. One of the Italian company’s main authenticity inspection devices is the “PhotoEuro3”, a portable banknote detector currently installed at more than 70 thousand places throughout the Eurozone: single sales points, tills in superstores, banks and post offices.
PhotoEuro3 can detect counterfeit banknotes as it checks the magnetic codes present inside the original metallic thread of each Euro banknote, the one anti-forgery measure that has so far never been copied. The Italian company succeeded in creating this technology as it has specialized in the development of detectors (effectively magnetic heads) ever since it was founded. Ferrara added, “For more than five decades now we have manufactured magnetic sensors. These have a broad field of application, from payment systems to toll booths and the detection of bank checks through to telephone cards. We also work for professional fields such as cinematography that still use analogue technology.” The greatest achievement however was when the company realized the security thread in banknotes could contain a magnetic code able to identify the denomination.
“From then on,” said Ferrara, “we devised sensors able to detect information unknown to people not familiar with the field and that would guarantee maximum reliability. We are now the leader in Europe: we may have a few competitors, but our company is the only one specialized on a vast scale in the detection of the security thread in paper money.”