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UK to retire paper banknotes and switch to polymer within 100 days
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The British Central Bank will abolish banknotes with a value 14.5 billion pounds, or nearly $18 billion, in circulation by September 30 as it seeks to phase out its remaining paper money in favor of polymer notes. The transition will make Britain the largest economy in the world that only uses plastic banknotes.

The Bank of England has urged people holding paper £20 and £50 notes to spend them or deposit them with a financial institution before they are no longer legal tender. Retail outlets will no longer accept them from October, but banks and the UK Post Office may continue to do so. Britain is one of Europe’s most cashless societies, with many consumers switching to digital and card payments during the coronavirus pandemic.

The polymer, known for being thin and flexible, is an important ingredient in many plastics. The Bank of England said polymer notes tend to be cleaner. They are also water resistant and harder to counterfeit as the laborious manufacturing process is likely to put off counterfeiters.

“The change of our banknotes from paper to polymer over the past few years has been an important development, as it makes them more difficult to counterfeit and means they are more durable,” said Chief Cashier Sarah John, responsible for banknotes, in a press release. statement.

Australia, which began issuing polymer banknotes in 1992, was the first economy to abandon paper money. The US dollar is printed on a linen and cotton blend with randomly distributed red and blue fibers to deter counterfeiting.

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All UK polymer banknotes feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on one side. The 5 pound denomination was the first to be rolled out and began circulating in September 2016. The other side features former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who led the country during World War II.

Jane Austen, the famous writer of romantic novels, is depicted on the polymer ten pound notes. The polymer twenty-pound note bears a portrait of JMW Turner, a 19th-century artist renowned for his paintings of landscapes and seascapes. The new 50 pound note features Alan Turing, a founding father of computing and artificial intelligence who was a code breaker during World War II. His life story was adapted into the Oscar-winning film “Imitation Game”.

The notes going out of circulation feature Adam Smith, a Scottish economist who wrote a seminal text on capitalism, and industrialist-inventors Matthew Boulton and James Watt.

The Bank of England was initially criticized by some animal lovers and religious groups for using a minimal amount of tallow – an animal fat product commonly used as an industrial lubricant – to produce polymer banknotes. Tallow helps currency move smoothly through machinery, ensuring it doesn’t jam or jam, a chemist told the Washington Post in 2016. It can also come from non-animal sources.

British authorities refused to make changes to polymer banknotes, citing the high cost of switching to other oil sources.

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