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UK: Britain's Banknotes Get Plastic Surgery

By: RTV/ITN
By: RTV/ITN

Plastic banknotes are to be brought into circulation in 2016, the Bank of England chief announced on Wednesday (December 18).

The new notes will be made of polymer, instead of cotton like the current banknotes, because the bank says they will be much cleaner and more durable.

''We think they bring a lot of benefits, they are more secure so they protect us against counterfeiting much more than the existing notes, better technology," Bank of England chief, Mark Carney said.

''Secondly they are cleaner, they don't suffer from the deterioration we see from the paper-based ones and more durable - they'll last …two-and- a-half times as long …that means they are cheaper for the tax payer and also more environmentally friendly. So all of that is pretty significant and I should say that all of this is a culmination of a three year process that we've undertaken,'' Carney continued.
A public consultation, giving people the chance to handle the notes, found 87% of 13,000 individuals who responded were in favor of polymer.

The £5 note, featuring former UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, will be the first plastic banknote. The £10 note is to go plastic about a year later; this one will also have the image of author Jane Austen on it.

John Sheridan, from National Crime Agency, said the new notes were good news for the agency and for the public.

''Well I think it's good news for the NCA because it will reduce the counterfeiters ability to be able to counterfeit the banknotes produced on the polymer substrate. And also I think it's good news for the public's point of view because their bank notes are now going to be more durable and more hygienic,'' he said.

More than 25 countries issue polymer banknotes, including Australia - which began printing them in 1988 - as well as New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, and most recently Fiji and Mauritius.
''Part of my job is to monitor trends internationally on counterfeiting and methods and materials used and what we've noticed, looking at other jurisdictions where they have polymer notes in general circulation, is that there is a reduction in the number of counterfeits that are even attempted let alone passed,'' Sheridan said.

The new notes will retain their familiar look, the Bank said, including the portrait of the Queen and a historical character.


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