The Bulletin

Britain turns to plastic money

Posting in Technology
Britain became the latest currency to move from paper to polymer money.

Canada issued a $100-denomination polymer note in 2011 and now Britain has plans to follow suit, Bank of England announced today. In 2016, Britain will issue a five-pound polymer note. The next year, the 10-pound note (featuring Jane Austen) will make the change to polymer. The new notes will also be 15 percent smaller than current notes.

The Bank of England says polymer notes are a major upgrade from paper ones. They're resistant to dirt and moisture so they stay clean and last about 2.5-times longer than paper notes. Security will also get a boost because polymer notes are harder to counterfeit. Canada's success in preventing counterfeit by moving to polymer prompted Britain to consider the change.

A survey commissioned by the bank found that Brits were overwhelmingly positive about the polymer notes. Of the people surveyed, 87 percent said they were in favor of printing the next notes on polymer. Only six percent were opposed. 

There are already more than 20 countries with polymer banknotes. But don't expect the United States to join that group anytime soon (though the U.S. notes have been forced to go through some innovation over the years).

The Bank of England hasn't decided if it will change other notes to polymer. 

Photo: Flickr/HowardLake

— By on December 18, 2013, 12:58 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure