UK will switch to plastic currency notes from 2016
Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
Updated: Dec 19, 2013 02:43 IST
The Bank of England on Wednesday announced that from 2016 it will print polymer banknotes to ensure enhanced security features, longevity, lower cost and lesser load on environment.
The polymer notes will survive a spin in the washing machine, among its other benefits.
The banknotes in polymer will be printed in the denomination of 5 and 10 pounds. Apart from the image of Queen Elizabeth, the first polymer note of 5 pounds denomination will feature Winston Churchill in 2016, and another of 10 pounds denomination in 2017 featuring Jane Austen.
The bank said that the polymer notes will be slightly smaller than their existing paper equivalents, but the current practice of note size increasing with note denomination will be maintained.
Bank of England's Head of Notes Division Victoria Cleland, shows off the concept design of the new polymer five-pound banknote after a news conference at the Bank of England in London. AFP photo
More than 25 countries currently issue polymer banknotes. These include Australia, which introduced them in 1988, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Canada and most recently Fiji, and Mauritius, which both introduced polymer banknotes in 2013.
Bank of England’s notes are currently large compared with their international counterparts, making the largest denomination notes harder to fit into cash handling technology and less convenient for everyday use. Smaller notes will also reduce printing and storage costs, it said.
Band of England governor Mark Carney said: "Ensuring trust and confidence in money is at the heart of what central banks do. Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design to meet that objective."
In a file picture taken on September 10, 2013 a picture shows a sample ten pound British polymer banknote sitting on top of normal circulation cotton paper ten pound notes during a news conference at the Bank of England in London. AFP photo
"The quality of polymer notes is higher, they are more secure from counterfeiting, and they can be produced at lower cost to the taxpayer and the environment," he added.