View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/money/article/a702121
Bank asks: should we ditch paper notes for plastic?
The Bank of England is consulting on the introduction of plastic banknotes.
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.
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