Business World

Saturday 21 October 2017

Bank of England plans switch to 'more durable' plastic pounds

Christina Fincher and Li-mei Hoang

The Bank of England is moving closer to ditching paper pounds and following Australia and Canada into switching to plastic banknotes instead.

The central bank said yesterday it would ask the public its opinion before taking a decision in December on whether to adopt polymer pounds, which would also be smaller than current notes.

Governor Mark Carney introduced polymer banknotes while head of the Bank of Canada in 2011 and credited the material for a sharp drop in the rate of counterfeiting.

The Bank has issued paper banknotes ever since the central bank was created in 1694 as a way of raising money for King William III's war against France. The first fully printed notes appeared in 1853. Before that, notes were handwritten and signed by one of the bank's cashiers.

Polymer banknotes, as well as being hard to fake, are durable and stay cleaner for longer because the material is more resistant to dirt and moisture, the Bank said, adding feedback so far on the new-look notes had been positive.

Britain's central bank has reassured the public that polymer notes would carry the same designs and be tiered in size like current notes.

They would, however, be smaller to allow larger denominations to fit more easily into purses and wallets.

If the decision is taken to issue polymer notes, they would be introduced one denomination at a time, beginning with the new five-pound note featuring Winston Churchill in 2016.

More than 20 countries currently issue polymer banknotes.

Irish Independent

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