Hailed as the biggest change to currency since decimalisation, from today a plastic five pound note featuring a portrait of Winston Churchill will replace the traditional cotton and paper notes.
Used in more than 30 countries around the world, including Canada and New Zealand, notes made of ‘polymer’ plastic are more durable, as they are resistant to dirt and water. The smaller plastic five pound note, measuring just 125mm x 65mm, is more environmentally friendly, as it is estimated that they for five years longer than paper notes.
440 million of the new notes have been printed and distributed around the country, however many consumers will have to wait until next week before they get one. As only 7% of the country’s ATM machines dispense £5 notes, those wishing to withdraw a note will have to visit their bank.
Last year, the Bank of England seized 240,000 counterfeit notes, and hope that the move to plastic will enhance security. The plastic five pound note features a range of measures designed to minimise the risk of counterfeiting, including:
- A clear window featuring the Queen’s portrait
- Gold and silver foil images of Big Ben on each side of the note
- Micro-lettering that is only viewable under a microscope
- Three holographic images, including a 3D image of the coronation crow
From today onwards, paper five pound notes will begin to be withdrawn from circulation, with the deadline for spending in May 2017. Both the ten and twenty pound notes are due to be printed in plastic over the next four years.