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Bank asks: should we ditch paper notes for plastic?

The Bank of England is consulting on the introduction of plastic banknotes.

Bank asks: should we ditch paper notes for plastic?

The Bank of England is coming to a shopping centre near you!

It will be gathering public opinion on whether the UK should drop its old fashioned paper banknotes and replace them with more durable and secure plastic polymer.

As part of a three year consultation, the Bank will hold 50 events across the UK in 12 shopping centres that will allow consumers to handle specimen polymer notes and provide feedback.

The Bank said it has already had positive feedback from consumer groups and that there were other ‘considerable’ benefits of using polymer. Polymer notes are more resistant to dirt and moisture so stay cleaner for longer. They are also more difficult to counterfeit and are more durable, lasting at least 2.5 times longer than paper banknotes.

Charles Bean, deputy governor of the Bank, said that despite these benefits 'the Bank would print notes on polymer only if we were persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence in, and be comfortable with, our notes.’

The consultation process will end on 15 November and an announcement on the future of banknotes will be made in December.

If the polymer notes are brought into circulation, the size of UK notes will shrink. The Bank said this would make them easier to fit into wallets and purses, although there will still be varying sizes to denote different denominations.

Under the plans, the new £5 note will be 125mm long and 65mm high, as opposed to the current size of 135mm by 70mm.

If the notes receive the thumbs up from the public, the new £5 note featuring Winston Churchill will be printed first in 2016 at the earliest, followed by the new Jane Austen £10 note (pictured).

What is polymer?

Australia adopted polymer notes in 1988 and was followed by over 20 countries. Polymer banknotes are produced from a thin, transparent and flexible film made of polypropylene. The film is coated with multiple layers of special ink to make it opaque and a portion is left clear to allow a security mark to be embedded.

This differs from the cotton paper notes the UK has at present where cotton fibres are mixed with water to produce a pulp. Colour is then placed into a mould to create a watermark and a security thread is woven in. The pulp is then treated and dried.

4 comments so far. Why not have your say?

Alan Tonks

Sep 10, 2013 at 16:56

So the Bank of England wants feedback on plastic notes, no they don’t that is a ploy, they will decide then just do it.

The plastic will make it more difficult to counterfeit, well I suppose the Bank of England would know more about that.

Why would you have any confidence in the Bank of England, with their printing of funny money, 0.5% interest rate and a Bubble as the Governor?

When they bring their plastic in they will be smaller than the paper money, it will not be the only thing that will shrink, I bet.

If the Bank of England give the thumbs up, they will be circulation by 2016 and I sure they will.

I expect the 0.5% will still be in operation and Carney will still have his Bubble.

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Ian Lees

Sep 10, 2013 at 19:29

Given that Banks are insolvent - and pay their fines with" a paper transaction" rather than an " Asset Backed " currency . . .the plastic will be worth more than the paper it is printed on ! Bring on the Presbyterian Savings Bank (PSB) . . .whose ethics will be clear, and their services operated on more than just a Sunday !

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Rodney Magowan

Sep 11, 2013 at 13:05

Nothing new in plastic notes - in this part of the UK the Northern Bank when part of the awful National Australia group introdcued plastic notes.

Happily the Northern Bank is now part of the Dankse Bank.

Nothing wrong with plastic notes, have already been Sterling plastic for years.

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Sep 15, 2013 at 11:06

Suppose this topic will rumble and rumble - it it has proved o.k. for the past 25 years or so in Australia, so just let's get on with it and stop chuntering!

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