March 17th, 2015, by Shayne Feinberg
Following the Bank of England’s (BoE) announcement that they would be transitioning their banknotes from traditional paper to polymer, the coming weeks will see Scotland’s Clydesdale Bank be the first to introduce the plastic notes to the country’s public.
Starting this month, March 2015, the Scottish Bank will issue two million brand-new polymer five-pound banknotes to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Scotland’s Forth Bridge.
The Bank of England will continue to execute their plan to roll out £5 notes, depicting Sir Winston Churchill, in the second half of 2016. The BoE will also release a new £10 note in 2017. (India Times)
The Rise of Polymer
Britain is the latest to join over 30 countries that have transitioned (at least partially) to polymer banknotes. Australia was the first country to develop and use polymer notes in general circulation back in 1988, mainly due to rising counterfeit money operations during that time. (Reserve Bank of India) Since then, the notes have been adopted by many countries including Canada, Mexico, Romania, Singapore, Vietnam, Israel and Kuwait, etc. For a full list of countries using polymer notes, click here.
The rise in polymer note popularity has been fueled by an increasing need for cash security, in the hopes of reducing illegal counterfeit operations and better regulate the amount of money in circulation.
In 2012, the Bank of England reportedly withdrew 719,000 counterfeited notes from circulation, equating to £13.1 million. In other words, around one in every 4000 notes in circulation was a fake. (National Crime Agency)
As a matter of fact, 12 months after Australia introduced their polymer notes into general circulation, counterfeiting rates in the country dropped by 80%. (Innovia)
The Bank of England is banking on the idea that their introduction of polymer banknotes will have a similar outcome. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England said: “The quality of polymer notes is higher, they are more secure from counterfeiting, and they can be produced at lower cost to the taxpayer and the environment.” (Sky News)