England and Wales will see the launch of the new plastic £5 note entering into circulation today (13th September 2016). The brand new note, made from polymer, is said to be more durable and more difficult to counterfeit than its paper predecessor.
The new £5 note will only be available from a handful of banks and ATMs meaning most people won’t get their hands on the new note for around a week. Major cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff will be the cities set to stock the new notes first.
Only around 7% of cash machines in England and Wales dispense £5 notes so using ATMs to dispense them has been seen as a big problem. The best way to obtain one of these new fivers is to head into your banks local branch and ask for one with your change.
However, Scotland has already had some polymer fivers in circulation since March 2015. A full scale roll out of the new notes will take place later this month by Clydesdale Bank and next month for Bank of Scotland and Royal Bank of Scotland.
Many people have criticised the Bank of England’s slow response to introducing polymer notes as Northern Ireland and many other European countries have been using this material in their currency for years. Northern Ireland issued their first polymer notes back in October 1999 when they put two million notes into circulation to mark the millennium.
The Bank of England have defended their decision to wait, they feel that introducing this change now means they have been able to improve security measures. These new security measures include a transparent window featuring the Queen’s portrait and Big Ben which is shown in gold on the front and silver on the back.
The new fiver, which depicts Winston Churchill, is said to be cleaner, safer and stronger than the previous note. Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, spoke to the BBC saying; “The use of polymer means it can better withstand being repeatedly folded into wallets or scrunched up inside pockets, and can also survive a spin in the washing machine,”
Around 440 million new £5 notes have been printed and will enter circulation steadily over the course of the coming months. The current paper five pound note will remain valid until 5th May 2017, if you still have any paper fivers left after that time you should hand them into your bank.
The new £10 note featuring Jane Austen and the new £20 note featuring JMW Turner will enter circulation in summer 2017 and by 2020 respectively.
References and further reading
Header Image Credit: Joe Giddens/PA via ITV (http://www.itv.com/news/2016-06-02/plastic-five-pound-note-unveiled/)
Content Image Credit: Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/02/plastic-5-notes-featuring-sir-winston-churchill-that-are-unteara/