Britain mulls issuing plastic currency notes
London: The Bank of England may begin to issue plastic banknotes in order to ensure good quality genuine banknotes that the public can use with confidence.
The British central bank announced Tuesday it was soliciting public opinion for approval of such notes, reports Xinhua.
According to the bank, a three-year research project was undertaken to examine different materials on which banknotes are printed. The bank reviewed the relative merits of printing banknotes on polymer rather than the cotton paper as it is at present.
Understandably, the plastic banknotes will be resistant to dirt and moisture, and are safe and more durable. These will initially be used for the new-style five-pound and 10-pound banknotes, with one denomination at a time.
The five-pound note will feature a picture of Sir Winston Churchill, and is expected to be issued in 2016 at the earliest, with the 10-pound note to follow.
If the decision is made to move to polymer banknotes, the central bank said it would also introduce smaller banknotes so that it is convenient to carry them in purses and wallets.
"Polymer banknotes are cleaner, more secure and more durable than paper notes. They are also cheaper and more environmentally friendly," said Bank of England Deputy Governor Charles Bean.
"However, the Bank of England would print notes on polymer only if we were persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence it in, and are comfortable using it," he said.
"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," Bean added.
The central bank will announce the decision on whether to move to polymer in December.
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.