The Bank of England has been slow to adopt polymer banknotes but by 2020 we will have three of them.
A polymer £5 entered circulation last year, to be followed by a £10 note in three weeks’ time on September 14. The polymer £20 arrives in 2020.
Polymer is a thin and flexible plastic material which, the Bank says, makes the notes cleaner, safer and stronger than their paper equivalents.
This material is manufactured in Cumbria where Innovia Group has invested £40m at its Wigton site, adding a new polypropylene film line and building an opacification plant that coats the clear polymer film and adds security features before it is dispatched to De La Rue in Essex for printing.
The Bank says that polymer notes are resistant to dirt and moisture so stay cleaner far longer than paper notes.
They are not indestructible but can withstand more wear and tear than their paper notes and are expected to last at least 2.5 times longer.
This makes them more environmentally friendly. The Carbon Trust has certified that, over their full life cycle, the carbon footprint of the new polymer tenner will be 8% lower than the £10 paper banknote.
On the front of the note (the side with raised print), there are two clusters of raised dots in the top lefthand corner. This tactile feature helps blind and partially-sighted people identify the value of the note.
But arguably the biggest benefit of polymer notes is that they are much harder to counterfeit.
The security features of the new tenner are explained in this short video:
Worldwide, more than 30 countries use polymer banknotes including Australia, Canada and Mexico, while the Scottish clearing banks – Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale and RBS – also issue them.
The new Bank of England £10 features Jane Austen – 2017 is the 200th anniversary of the author’s death – and at 132mm x 69mm is slightly smaller than the paper £10, featuring Charles Darwin, which is 142mm x 75mm.
The paper £10 will be withdrawn from circulation by next spring. The exact date will be given three months in advance.
Remember too that the old round £1 coin is due to be withdrawn from circulation on October 15. For more information on that click here.
Getting ready for the polymer £10
As with any change in banknote design, all businesses that handle cash need to plan and prepare for the introduction of the new notes.
The Bank of England has issued this advice:
- Ensure you know which cash handling machines are being operated by your business. These machines include self-service check-outs, desktop counters, ATMs, ticket machines, and any other machine that weighs, counts, sorts, accepts, dispenses or recycles banknotes.
- Contact the manufacturer or supplier of your machines to discuss what adaptations will be required for the new £10 note, and when they will be available. For most machines, a software update will be needed.
- Aim to implement adaptations to your machines before September 14.
- Train your staff. A range of materials to support staff training on issue and withdrawal are available here.
- Keep up to date with the latest information about polymer banknotes, and other banknote news, by registering with the Bank of England here.