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Currency bill tracking is the process (usually facilitated by any one of a number of websites set up for the purpose) of tracking the movements of banknotes, similar to how ornithologists track migrations of birds by ringing them. Currency bill tracking sites can track currency among the users of that website. A user may register a bill by entering its serial number, and if someone else has already registered the bill, then the "route" of the bill can be displayed.
Some bill tracking sites encourage marking before spending, whereas others do not. This usually depends on the laws of the country issuing the currency.
Originally beginning in the United States in the mid-1990s, the phenomenon or hobby of currency tracking quickly spread first to Canada and then beyond. Especially with the Euro bill tracking, trackers have taken on a much more competitive nature and have formed communities within their respective sites. Many successful sites incorporate some sort of social media, either through site specific unique techniques, or through outside popular social media sites. In the Eurozone because multiple countries having adopted the Euro, this easily leads to competition between trackers in different countries; in the United States competition plays out at the state or county level; and in Canada, at the provincial level.
Marking bills in Canada with ink or rubber stamp is legal. In the United States, marking is illegal if there is intent to render the bill "unfit to be re-issued"; however, this is rarely enforced and only a fine is faced, if convicted. Marking is widespread in both countries. In the Eurozone marking is not universal, and varies by region. The European Central Bank considers the marking of bills (as well as the destruction of them) to be legal and not exclusive to governments.
Some of the most popular websites for bill tracking include the following:
The act of tracking a $20 bill was the binding theme between various stories in the film Twenty Bucks.
A similar scheme to currency bill tracking – and said to be inspired by it – is BookCrossing, which tracks the movement of secondhand books which are marked and then "released into the wild".
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