New Polymer £20 on its way…


The Bank of England has announced that the new Polymer £20 is the most secure bank note ever.

Featuring a picture of artist JMW Turner, the new note is already in circulation.

This is the third polymer note introduced by the Bank of England, following the five and ten pound notes, issued in 2016 and 2017.

The £20 is the most common note in circulation, with almost two billion in use. In the first six months of 2019, 88% of detected forgeries were £20 notes. This is a real problem for small businesses who handle cash. Mike Cherry, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, has welcomed the new format note.

“As the most common note in circulation, small firms will be pleased to see the money they are working with is going to become safer and more secure. This will mean that small businesses can spend time and money on other issues away from fraud.”

Over the last year, ATM machines have been reconfigured to cope with the smaller new polymer £20. It is expected that within around 8 weeks, all ATMs will dispense new format notes rather than the old version.

What security features are included?

Amongst its forgery-beating features are two see through windows and a two colour foil.

  • A large see through window in the shape of the fountains in Trafalgar Square. The foil around the window is blue and gold foil on the front and silver on the back.
  • A metallic hologram which changes between the word “twenty” and “pounds” when the note is tilted.
  • A purple foil patch containing the letter “T” and based on the staircase at Tate Britain.

Will the £50 note be replaced?

Yes! A polymer version of the £50 is due to be issued in 2021. It will feature a picture of Bletchley Park codebreaker and maths maestro Alan Turing.

When will the paper £20 be withdrawn?

The Bank of England will give six months notice before it withdraws the paper £20 from circulation.

What will happen to the paper £20 when they’re taken out of circulation?

As the old paper notes go back to banks, they will be returned to the Bank of England and replaced by the new polymer £20 notes. Eventually the Bank of England will announce that there is a six month deadline to exchange any paper £20 for new polymer £20 notes.

As the old notes are collected, they will be counted and sorted, before being bundled into blocks of £50,000, and stored.

Historically old notes were burnt and used to heat the Bank of England building in the City of London, but the old format £20 will instead be treated and used as compost.




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