The new $100 bills were designed to thwart counterfeiters—but instead, the complex process required to create the high-tech bills has thwarted printers, resulting in $110 billion in currently unusable bills. The new hundreds, planned for roll-out in February, include a 3D security strip and color-shifting bell image—and producing them is so tricky that as many as 30% of those printed so far creased down the face during the process, resulting in a blank area, sources tell CNBC.
The government shut down production and quarantined the 1.1 billion printed so far—which amounts to more than 10% of all US currency on the planet. Officials must now create a mechanized system to determine which bills include the flaw—doing so by hand would take between 20 and 30 years, versus about one year by machine. Until the usable bills can be released, the current design will be produced again in order to avoid a shortage. The new bills cost twice as much to produce as a normal bill, a source says, meaning the government spent about $120 million on the defective batch.