Con artists are taking advantage of Kenyans’ inability to tell the fake and legitimate new currency apart. Counterfeit currency is a threat to the circulation of genuine Kenyan currency. Security features in currency notes have been incorporated in order to help detect fake Kenyan currency notes. This is done  as a deterrent and safeguard to minimize the risk of counterfeiting. The following security features are what you should look out for to distinguish how genuine a note is;

Portrait watermark

When held up to the light, a portrait of a three-dimensional lion should be visible. This often appears on left side of the note. Lack of the lion portrait shows that the note is not genuine.

Lack of Central Bank of Kenya initials.

The serial numbering style used by the CBK is asymmetrical and has progressively larger digits in ascending order. One set of serial numbers appears horizontally, the other vertically. The vertical serial numbers on the left hand side of banknotes glow under UV light.


The feel and texture of fake notes is different from the genuine ones. Genuine notes are made of fine linen, which is a type of cloth. Fake notes often use normal kind of paper that don’t have the same feel as genuine notes. For example, fake notes tear easily, they also do not feel as rough as genuine notes and may be slippery.

Security thread

All genuine banknotes have a distinct interwoven thread running vertically down the right-hand side of the notes. When held up to the light, the thread appears as a continuous line. The continuous line show a series of text featuring the denomination numeral of the note and the letters CBK. The current generation of banknotes features two types of threads;
1.) For the 1000 and 500 denominations, the thread is thicker and portrays a colour shift when viewed at angles.
2.) The 50, 100 and 200 shillings denominations have a thinner thread, silver in colour, and do not depict any colour shifts when viewed at angles.

Knowledge of these security features should help you distinguish a genuine note from a fake one.

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