UK to introduce plastic bank notes in 2016

The Bank of England announced it will begin issuing plastic bank notes for the first time in 2016, starting with the new £5 featuring Sir Winston Churchill.

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the notes would “combine the best of progress and tradition,” adding that the switch was a “natural evolution”.

The plastic bank note will be followed by a £10 note featuring Jane Austen and will also be made from polymer rather than the cotton paper currently used. After a three-year research consultation, several advantages were discovered over conventional notes. Even though the new notes are more expensive to produce, they are more difficult to counterfeit and are at least 2.5 times longer-lasting, making it cheaper in the long run. The plastic or “polymer” notes are able to withstand a cycle in the washing machine and can stay cleaner for longer.

Before the announcement a public consultation took place, allowing people to handle the notes, and found that out of 13,000 people 87% responded in favor of the polymer notes.

Carney added that the “response to that consultation was overwhelmingly supportive of polymer notes,” and that while the notes “sometimes stick together . . . this effect is shortlived”.

First used by Australia in 1988, these polymer notes have been adopted by more than 25 countries so far.

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