There are 8.6 billion U.S. $100 bills currently in circulation, and picking a counterfeit bill out from that haystack would be a daunting task, to say the least. With that in mind, the Federal Reserve today is putting a redesigned $100 into circulation.
The new bill is part of an extended rollout of new currency. Over the last decade, the Federal Reserve has unveiled new $10, $20 and $50 bills in an initiative it has called "The New Color of Money." The goal of the effort is to make currency both less susceptible to and easier to check for counterfeiting.
"The new design incorporates security features that make it easier to authenticate, but harder to replicate," said Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell in a statement. "As the new note transitions into daily transactions, the user-friendly security features will allow the public to more easily verify its authenticity."
Among those features are a 3-D blue security ribbon with repeated Liberty Bells and "100"s that shift when the bill is tilted, according to The New York Times. The bill also features a gold-colored inkwell that contains a holographic bell.
The rollout may seem unimportant to many Americans; rap superstars and Walter Whites aside, lots of people rarely handle $100 bills. However, the C-note is surprisingly prevalent, second only to the $1 bill in terms of its numbers. Of the 33 billion bills in circulation, hundreds make up more than one-quarter, with 8.6 million bills; by comparison, there are 10.3 billion one-dollar bills.
Multiply that out, and it's clear that in terms of value, hundreds by far trump all other currency denominations.
The large number of $100s in circulation would imply that there are enough hundreds for all of us have about as many $100s in our pockets as $1s – something that for most of us isn't true. That's because a majority of $100 bills reside overseas, according to Federal Reserve estimates. In a 2012 paper, Federal Reserve economist Ruth Judson estimated that up to 70.7 percent of all $100 bills are abroad.
Why is so much money spending so much time out of the country? In part, as Quartz reported in 2012, it's because $100s are used as stores of value in other countries, particularly those with unstable currencies. In addition, hundreds are often used overseas in illegal transactions, for goods such as drugs and guns.
So it might be a long while before many Americans get their hands on the new $100. Unless they happen to be named Heisenberg.