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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Bank of England calls for more fivers in ATMs

The Bank of England is urging financial institutions to stock up ATMs with £5 notes in a bid to increase their circulation. The call comes as evidence grows that Brits are hoarding cash because they d...

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More paper Fivers in ATMs or a Polymer note instead?

How convenient for the BoE to blame the current problem with old and tired 5 pound notes on the recession, and then push for the high street banks to take action.  Weren't they doing exactly the same thing in early 2007 before the worst of the economic downturn began in 2008? 

Then the BoE Governor, Mervyn King, blamed High Street banks for the shortage and poor condition of the notes, saying it was cheaper for them to stock their ATMS with 10 and 20 pound notes.  Isn't that just the point - it is cheaper - and aren't the banks trying to remain as efficient as possible with operations?  Also, aren't most of us used now to withdrawing amounts in mulitples of 10?

If nothing is changing, surely the BoE should be looking at other options to improve the durability of 5 pound notes, such as possibly introducing a polymer Fiver.  This was looked at by Northern Bank in 1999/2000 (see  I would guess that the reason it wasn't adopted was cost.  That being said polymer notes are in use across many countries (see 

They were introduced in New Zealand in 1999 and in 2004 a 'Five Year Report' on their effectiveness was published by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.  One of the conclusions was that "The Key benefit of polymer notes to the community is the ability of the notes to retain their structure and remain relatively clean.  People see this as THE major benefit of polymer.  There has also been a very significant drop in the number of counterfeits......"

So instead of again trying to push the cost of the Fiver problem onto the high street banks, perhaps the BoE should be shouldering it and looking again at the business case for polymer?  If, as the BoE has stated, Fivers are staying in circulation for twice as long as they should, why not make them polymer notes?  A polymer Fiver would almost certainly be a lot more popular with us in the street, than a 5 pound coin would be.  Oh yes, and there might be fewer counterfeits too..............



Comments: (2)

Dave Kershaw
Dave Kershaw - Ulster Bank - Belfast 09 December, 2009, 08:46Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The Northern Bank plastic fivers are still in circulation in Northern Ireland. While I've never seen them ripped, they suffer from fading, and end up as almost transparent pieces of plastic.

Lachlan Gunn
Lachlan Gunn - BenAlpin Ltd - Perth 09 December, 2009, 10:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thanks for the feedback Dave.  Sounds like the Northern Bank Fivers are right at the end of their lifecycle - assuming they are the ones produced in 1999/2000.  Polymer banknotes can have a lifecycle of up to 8 years, while the average lifecycle of a paper banknote is just 2 years.........................