Paper banknotes are on their way out

The days of paper banknotes are nearing an end as the Bank of England announced that the next £20 banknote will be printed on polymer, which it says is a more secure, durable and cleaner material.


The £5 and £10 notes are already shifting to the polymer material after the Bank’s 10-week consultation on the matter back in 2013 when it found that 87% of respondent were in favour of the change.

The polymer £5 note featuring Winston Churchill will be issued in autumn 2016, the £10 polymer note featuring Jane Austen entering circulation a year later.


The Bank said the decision to move to polymer was made after extensive research was conducted into the developments in security features for notes printed on cotton-based paper and polymer since the 2013 decision was made.

A competitive tender process for the supply of the polymer for the £20 note is expected to start in late 2015.

Who will be on the new £20 note?

The note, which will feature a visual artist nominated during the public nominations period held earlier this year, will enter circulation in 3-5 years’ time.

After the two-month public consultation ended in July during which the Bank received 19,000 nominations, a shortlist of 436 artists was drawn up that will eventually be whittled down to three to five names. The Bank’s governor, Mark Carney, will make the final decision that will be announced in spring 2016, alongside a concept image showing the portrait as it will appear on the note.

The £50 banknote

As it stands, the £50 note will be the only paper banknote in circulation, and whilst the assumption is that the next iteration will be made out of polymer as well, given the fact that the latest version of it entered into circulation only four years ago it will be some time before that decision is made.

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