LONDON: The Bank of England’s next 50-pound note will be made out of plastic as the UK extends the production of polymer cash to its highest-denomination bill.
The new note, worth about US$66 at current exchange rates, will be Britain’s last denomination to make the shift from paper to plastic, with five- and 10-pound bills already made of the more durable and harder-to-fake material and a 20-pound note due to be introduced in 2020. The new 50-pound plastic notes will follow soon afterward, according to statements from the BOE and Treasury.
What character will appear on the back of the new banknote is yet to be decided, with the central bank saying it will seek the views of the public. Nineteenth-century artist JMW Turner will appear on the polymer 20-pound bills. All British currency features the queen on the front.
“Our money needs to be secure and this new note will help prevent crime,” Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick said.
As well as being harder to counterfeit, plastic notes last around 2 1/2 times as long as paper notes, the BOE said. Originally introduced in 1981, there are currently 330 million 50-pound notes in circulation, with a combined value of 16.5 billion pounds.
The decision to produce the new notes comes after a consultation on the role of cash in the UK economy amid the growing use of digital payments.
The consultation document in March noted “a perception among some that 50-pound notes are used for money laundering, hidden economy activity and tax evasion.” Still, the government has decided to keep the current mix of coins and notes.