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Man and Machine have been pitted against each other time and time again, with Chess World Champion Garry Kasparov having won and lost against Deep Blue, IBM’s supercomputer. So is man and machine evenly matched? Not quite as machines are constantly learning to become better, and it would appear that man may have peaked in terms of mental development. But what about in areas where we do not really need mental skill, where it is all about brawn and brass tacks? Does man climb atop the food chain and reign supreme? This is what we are about to discover as man enters the ring yet again with a machine to see who can count money faster.

Counting in the Global Arena

But first, we need a hypothetical ring where our heavyweights can flex their muscles and show their strengths. Where better than the whole world, as man and machine champions count all the money exchanged daily. The total comes in at $6 Trillion. That’s SIXTY billion $100 bills, and that’s A LOT!

You would think there’s no way we (man) stand a chance at counting that many notes against a tireless machine, but that would be rather hasty as you are yet to meet our champion. In the blue corner, fighting for all of humanity is Zhuo Minjing, a Guinness World Record holder who holds the record for the most banknotes counted in 30 seconds while blindfolded, beating the former record of 178 banknotes having counted a staggering 202 banknotes!

Human Champion: Zhuo Minjing

There is an unofficial claim to Zhuo Minjing’s crown as a Chinese woman who is at the moment unnamed became famous in a viral video where she was counting banknotes with a 5-finger technique that left millions of watchers stunned and impressed by her technique and skill.

While there are several accounts of the history of the banknote counter, all accounts show that the first money-counting machines were slow and sometimes overheated. This means that if people like Zhuo Minjing had always existed, there would have been no need to invent money-counting machines in the first place. Score for team “man”? Not so fast, let us see how she compares with affordable and high-end banknote counting machines of the modern era.

Machine Challengers: Ribao BC-40 and Ribao BCS-160

Introducing our challengers for team “machine”: The Ribao BC-40 and the Ribao BCS-160. The former is the more compact option of the duo and is relatively budget-friendly. Despite being an entry-level money counter, the BC-35 offers users three counting speeds at 900/1200/1500 bills per minute, which amounts to 450/600/750 bills for every half minute or 30 seconds. You can already see the trend. We are yet to introduce the big guns, and the machines have pulled a fair distance from the “202” benchmark set by our money-counting Olympian, Zhuo Minjing.

It worsens when considering Ribao’s bigger, more robust money sorter, the BCS-160. It can detect counterfeit notes, sort the bills according to denomination, and read the serial number while still counting at a maximum speed of 1200 banknotes per minute and 600 banknotes a half minute or 30 seconds.

The Astonishing Gap

What we consider superhuman is easy-going for the machines. And the above listed are not at the pinnacle of money-counting technology as far as speed is concerned. While this might mean the machine gives up on some accuracy and may not be able to sort the bills or detect counterfeit bills, some machines can count as many as 1600 bills in a minute and 800 bills in half the time. Simply staggering numbers!

So if the fastest human counter counted $6 trillion, at 202 bills every half minute, she would count 581,760 bills every day (if she works tirelessly), and it would take her 103,135 days or 282 and half years. On the other hand, the fastest machine would count 2,304,000 bills per day and take 26,042 days or 71 years, less than a third of the time it would take our money-counting Olympian.

The facts tell a clear picture. The difference between man’s ability and the machine regarding bill counting is light and day. With more practice, we (humans) might be able to push beyond 200 notes, but I do not see us becoming as fast as these machines in the foreseeable future. The choice between choosing the fastest human counter and money counting machine becomes purely cosmetic when you consider the ease with which these machines can count the bills and tirelessly be reloaded around the clock.

Man vs machine. The fastest money counters

We pitted man against machine, and rather unsurprisingly, the machine came up trumps with a landslide margin. Perhaps it is indeed the rise of the machines, and they have come here to stay. Others might say humans still take the credit because these bill counters are only man’s creation and evidence of man’s intelligence. In a way, we can still say man won in the end as a consolation, but in a straight-up battle, our best against theirs, we came second best.

Verdict: The Machine.

While machines clearly have the upper hand when it comes to counting paper currency, what about coins? The dynamics change slightly, and the debate between manual counting and machine counting becomes even more interesting. If you're curious about the role of coin counter machines in this age-old contest, we invite you to read our article on Coin Counter Machines vs. Manual Counting.

The machine may have won this round, but the battle is far from over. Whether it's paper bills or coins, the advancements in technology continue to challenge human capabilities. But remember, these machines are a testament to human ingenuity. So, in a way, we all win.

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