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Bank of England: plastic banknotes possible by 2016



The Bank of England has confirmed it will hold a public consultation on the possibility of plastic banknotes.

A statement, released on Tuesday, said that the Bank of England is responsible for providing quality banknotes that “the public can use with confidence”. 

After three years of researching the possibility of the more durable currency, which are believed to improve security, the bank says that the consultation will end in November with a decision being reached by December.

Polymer bank notes are currently in circulation in 20 countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore, each of which report a reduction in counterfeit currency.

Deputy governor of the Bank of England, Charles Bean said, “Polymer banknotes are cleaner, more secure and more durable than paper notes. They are also cheaper and more environmentally friendly.” 

Bean stressed however, that public opinion would play an important role in the decision making process.

He added, “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.

Australia was the first country to issue plastic currency in 1988, and has since gone 100% polymer. Twenty-three countries currently use polymer banknotes, with Brunei, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Romania and Vietnam among those to use purely polymer notes. 

The Bank plans to introduce the first polymer note in 2016, featuring Sir Winston Churchill and HM Queen, with the second batch featuring 19th century novelist, Jane Austen.

Further reading:  

The durable future of money

Britain in line for rollout of plastic banknotes

Man arrested over Twitter threats to female banknote campaigner

Jane Austen to take over from Charles Darwin as face of £10 notes


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