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Plastic £5 banknote unveiled: Polymer note could leave shoppers paying twice

Printed on polymer, the new £5 note has promised to be considerable more durable and last 2.5 times longer than paper money

Zlata Rodionova
Thursday 02 June 2016 18:26 BST
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Plastic five pound note

Britain’s first plastic banknotes may be prone to sticking together, meaning shoppers could be at risk of handing over two at once, the Bank of England has admitted.

Printed on polymer, the new £5 note promises to be considerably more durable and last 2.5 times longer than paper money. But experts warn that newly made notes could stick to each other because of the polymer-coating, proving irritating for people who might accidently end up paying twice.

“Brand new polymer notes can sometimes stick together, but this effect is short-lived once in use,” the Bank of England said in an official Q&A on the changes.

The final design of the new £5 note, which will feature the face Sir Winston Churchill, will be unveiled this afternoon at Bleinheim Palace, where the former leader was born.

The new notes will eventually replace paper money which has been in circulation for more than 300 years.

The move to polymer notes will cost up to £236m to shops and banks due to the cost of upgrading and replacing self-service machines and ATMs, according to an estimate by consultancy CMS Payment Intelligence.

Plastic bank notes fit in cash machines like paper ones, but are considerably more durable, cleaner and harder to counterfeit. The polymer bank note is also 15 per cent smaller than its paper equivalent.

A spilled drink should have a little effect on the new notes, which can be wiped clean and will even survive a standard laundry cycle with “minimal damage”.

The Winston Churchill fiver will go into circulation in September, a £10 note featuring Jane Austen will follow a year later, .

In April, the Bank of England unveiled the design of a new £20 featuring the artist JMW Turner and his painting "The Fighting Temeraire" that will enter into circulation in 2020.

The arrival of plastic banknotes means Britain is joining a list of more than 30 countries that already use them. Australia was the first to launch plastic notes in 1988, followed by countries including New Zealand and Singapore.

Two million £5 notes made of polymer plastic were released by the Clydesdale Bank, the largest issuer by volume of notes in Scotland, in March.

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