Banknotes are commonly used all over the world. This wear and tear forces banks to replace their existing supply now and then. In the UK, millions of plastic banknotes have been damaged in recent years.
The Plastic Banknotes Introduction
When first introduced, plastic banknotes were met with great enthusiasm. Replacing paper counterparts in this modern era is a smart decision.
Paper currency can be torn, bent, or even ripped, making it unspendable. A plastic banknote should, in theory, be capable of addressing these problems.
The Bank of England saw a lot of merit in these plastic notes. They can withstand being put in a washing machine with ease. More importantly, they do not suffer from the wear and tear of sitting in one’s pocket or wallet.
The polymer notes eventually made their way to the UK in 2016 and 2017. Their durability was put to the test rather quickly. Unfortunately, it appears that these plastic banknotes are not all sunshine and rainbows either.
Damage Remains an Issue
In 2020, it becomes apparent that plastic banknotes suffer from the same issues as their paper counterparts.
Roughly 50 million notes have been replaced since their original introduction. Those figures are not acceptable, particularly for the Bank of England.
Most of the motes had to be replaced due to major damage. Bills were folded, torn, had holes in them, or suffered from foil wear.
None of these aspects should have become apparent so early. In fact, some of them should not become apparent at all.
Replacing these bills costs a lot of money. With 20 million £5 notes and 26 million £10 notes to be replaced, the problems have become very palpable.
At the same time, this news is not too surprising. The Bank of England never claimed how these new notes would last forever.
The future of UK Banknotes
Despite the setback, the Bank of England is not giving up on plastic banknotes. In fact, a new polymer £20 bill will be introduced soon. It will feature artist JMW Turner.
The notes to replace the damaged ones should last for roughly five years. It is still a big improvement over their paper counterparts. Those bills usually last for two years or less.