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Public consultation marks one step closer to a purse full of polymer

Posted on 24 September 2013

The reality of using polymer banknotes in the UK has moved one step closer to reality, as the Bank of England announced it is to launch a public consultation programme to decide whether or not to go ahead with printing on plastic.

As part of this programme, the Bank will run a number of events across the UK as part of an awareness campaign in order to give the public an opportunity to learn more about polymer banknotes and to provide feedback, before a final decision is made and announced in December 2013.

Commenting, 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. However, 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."

For the past three years the Bank has conducted a research project looking at the materials on which banknotes are printed, in particular, reviewing the relative merits of printing banknotes on polymer rather than the current cotton paper used at present. If a decision is made to move to polymer, the Bank will also introduce smaller banknotes.

Polymer banknotes are manufactured from a transparent plastic film, specially coated with an ink layer that enables it to carry the printed design features of banknotes. The material allows the inclusion of ‘windows' or clear portions in the design, which enhance protection against counterfeits.

Chris Salmon, the Bank's Executive Director, Banking Services and Chief Cashier, said: "The forthcoming consultations demonstrate the Bank's commitment to transparency in relation to banknote issues, and are aimed at enhancing awareness and understanding of polymer so that the public can feed into the Bank's decision in an informed way."