The Bank of England Governor has announced that the next £5 and £10 notes will be printed on polymer. Retaining its familiar look, which includes the portrait of Her Majesty the Queen and a historical character, the first polymer note will be the £5 note featuring Sir Winston Churchill proposed to be issued in 2016. This will be followed a year later by a polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen.
The decision to print on polymer has followed a three-year research programme looking at different materials that banknotes have been used. Conducting research to meet public acceptance, BoE received a good volume of positive response indicating that the public is welcome to move forward with plastic notes.
The benefit of using polymer banknotes outweigh its current cotton-based paper. Governor Mark Carney, commented that, “Polymer notes are the next step in the evolution of banknote design. The quality of polymer notes is higher and more secure from counterfeiting, and can be produced at lower cost to the taxpayer and the environment.” BoE has estimated that Britain will save 100 million pounds over a decade from this.
However, printing polymer banknotes is not a new idea. According to the Telegraph, Australia was the first country to go purely plastic in 1996 but had already adopted this idea in 1988.
Plastic notes are now used in over 20 countries. The development of polymer banknotes have not convinced all European countries. Reuters states, that the European Central Bank agrees to the use of new security measures to tackle counterfeiting, but resists moving to plastic money.