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Britain Considers Polymer Notes
By Bank Note Reporter
October 08, 2013

This article was originally printed in Bank Note Reporter.
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Is plastic in the future for Great Britain and its bank notes? It could be. On Sept. 10 the Bank of England issued a press release calling for public input about a proposed change to polymer.

“For the past three years the Bank has conducted a research project looking at the materials on which banknotes are printed,” the Sept. 10 Bank of England press release noted. “In particular, the Bank has reviewed the relative merits of printing banknotes on polymer rather than the cotton paper as at present.

“From our research, we are confident that printing on polymer would bring considerable benefits to both the durability and quality of banknotes, while also enhancing the strong security which the public associates with Bank of England banknotes.”

Benefits of the switch to polymer, the bank said, include that:

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• Polymer notes are resistant to dirt and moisture and stay cleaner longer than paper;
• Polymer notes are secure, with advanced security features against counterfeiting;
• Polymer notes are more durable and will last 2.5 times longer than paper notes;
• Polymer notes are more environmentally friendly and, because they last longer, over time cheaper than paper money;
• Being thin and flexible, polymer notes fit into wallets and purses as easily as paper. More than 20 countries currently issue polymer bank notes, including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Canada and Fiji.

To judge the acceptance of any such switch, the bank says it has been discussing the change with those in the cash industry, retailers and financial institutions. It has also held a number of public focus groups across the United Kingdom, with the initial response being positive.

The bank’s website has additional details about polymer and the list of public consultation program events across the United Kingdom, which are scheduled to end on Nov. 15. The final decision is slated to made the following month.

Acknowledging the many benefits listed here for polymer over paper, Charles Bean, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, said: “The Bank of England 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 results of the consultation programme on which we are embarking will therefore form a vital part of our assessment of the merits of polymer banknotes.”

If the decision to change to polymer is made, the bank announced also that it would introduce reduced-size bank notes. These would be “more in line with the size of those in other countries and the larger denomination banknotes will be easier to fit into purses and wallets.” It added that, “This will not alter the current look of Bank of England banknotes: the existing format of tiered sizing will be maintained, i.e. the higher the denomination, the bigger the note.”

The new polymer £5 note, it said, would measure 125mm in length and 65mm in height. Each subsequent denomination would measure 7mm longer and 4mm higher than the previous denomination. Therefore, the £10 note would measure 132mm x 69mm. “These will be a little larger than the euro notes.”

The notes will be also continue to feature Queen Elizabeth II “and to celebrate people who have made a universally-recognised and lasting contribution in their particular field of work.” The first polymer bank note would feature Sir Winston Churchill, and the second Jane Austen on the new-style £5 and £10, with the Churchill £5 entering circulation in 2016, at the earliest, and the Austen £10 some time later.



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Comments
On October 9, 2013 Aardvark said
You be pretty certain that the United States will never switch to polymer notes.  Crane and Company along with the Massachusetts congressional delegation will never allow that to happen.  Look at all the static they been generating to prevent the elimination of the paper $1 bill.  Even the suggestion that $2 note production be increased to make up for  the loss is not enough to assuage them.

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