The Bank of England has announced that plastic banknotes will start circulating in the UK from 2016. Beginning with the £5 note, which will have Sir Winston Churchill on the front of it, followed by the author Jane Austen who will feature on the £10 note, which will be brought out a year later.
The notes will be created from polypropylene, which is slim, clear and can bend easily. The notes have been tested and remain intact even after having been placed in a washing machine. The notes are also considered to be more hygienic and are created with security in mind. It is harder to produce replicas as within the layer of ink, there are also clear sections in the display, which forms part of the design. They can also have other secure images embedded into the note.
The plastic bank notes are smaller in size, which means that the bank ATM machines will need to be adapted to make way for these new notes. The Bank of England believes that despite the initial cost to make the notes, in the long run the notes will prove to be cost effective because the notes will last longer.
A survey was carried out amongst a mixture of shopping centres, where approximately 13,000 took part and were asked their opinion of the new notes. 87% were for the notes, 7% remained impartial and only 6% were against the change.
Attempts have been made in the UK before to introduce plastic notes. To mark the Year 2000 the Northern bank in Northern Ireland brought out a polymer £5 note. Also, in 1983 the Isle of Man brought out a plastic note but then had to take it out of circulation due to issues with the ink.
Over 20 countries have already started using polymer notes. Australia were the first, then followed by other countries, including New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and Fiji and more recently since August, Mauritius joined the other countries.
Following the challenging view that there are not enough ladies displayed on Bank of England bank notes, it has been confirmed that Jane Austen will be appearing on the new £10 note. The Bank of England has made it clear that only historical characters will be portrayed on all the notes. They also stated that the only living person who will be displayed on the notes will be a member of the Monarchy.