A recent announcement from The Bank of England is to introduce plastic banknotes by 2016.
If the planned changes do go ahead we will see on the newly designed £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill along with the planned £10 to follow with Jane Austen’s image. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Fiji are just some of the countries that are pioneering this initiative at the moment, with the most recent new addition – Mauritius in August – now has the plastic notes too. The Bank of England is very keen to gather the general public’s opinions before any decisions are made with the expected decision to be made in December 2013.
Plastic banknotes are harder wearing than the paper versions and will be even harder to copy and produce counterfeit versions; they can even handle a washing machine cycle. Plastic bank notes are made of a thin transparent film which allows the notes to have clear window within them to make the reproduction almost impossible. They are also more environmentally friendly which will be loved by green lovers.
The change to the notes from paper to plastic will initially be an expensive change over for The Bank of England and the Government but the costs will be more than covered with the longer life span of the notes. Current paper notes are made from cotton fibre linen rag and the life span is from 1 to 5 years with the lower domination notes. The unfit notes do end up in a shedder and being used for industrial compost, but a life span of a £50 note for instance can last 5 years or more. I personally don’t see many £50 notes!
With the introduction of plastic bank notes into the UK, it will send a message to other countries that the technology of the bank notes is encouraging and safe. In order to gain the public opinion on the notes that have been on the Governments agenda for some time there have been 40 road show events across the country which started in September and ended on the 14th November. The only time some of the public will have seen a polymer note was in 1999 when the Northern Bank of Northern Ireland issued a £5 commemorative note to celebrate year 2000, so it was a great opportunity for the public to see the notes. The general public’s acceptance is important and the feedback will be announced next month.