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Are We Ready for the Polymer Revolution?

It’s been a few weeks now since Clydesdale Bank first issued the £5 polymer note to the public and from what I can see consumer reaction, so far at least, has been overwhelmingly positive.

A quick look at Twitter reveals very little negativity around the launch; instead, consumers shared their excitement of the new ultra-durable note. “Can't wait to get my hands on one of the new polymer Clydesdale Bank £5 notes,” wrote one user, while many others declared how they couldn’t wait to put it through the ultimate test – the washing machine. In fact I couldn’t find one single negative comment. That’s because polymer notes are a great success story.

Now 27 years old, polymer notes have been adopted by more than 20 countries and could be in circulation for significantly longer than traditional notes. Australia now only issues polymer notes to its citizens and the nation is proud to be considered its birthplace. Since the polymer notes made their way into Australian wallets in 1988, it is widely accepted that plastic notes dramatically improved the security of the country’s currency.

But as Bank of England readies itself for a wider rollout of polymer notes in 2016, how will the introduction of this durable material impact UK retail banks as well as end users?

Of course it will take some time to adjust to the new notes but if research is anything to go by, the benefits of the new notes will significantly outweigh any alterations needed. A study by Bank of England shows the anticipated savings of producing polymer notes versus paper notes is likely to be in excess of £100 million over a ten year period. The notes will also have additional security features, such as a transparent window at the bottom, which is expected to help reduce counterfeiting and fraud.

Investment into updating our notes now is likely to make our currency not only more secure but ensures it is future proof for our next generation. Cash continues to remain the preferred payment method for many people and the new polymer notes will help facilitate safe and secure transactions. 

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