Change to currency

The biggest change to currency since decimalisation

13 September 2016

The new polymer £5 note, launched today, marks the biggest change to UK currency since decimalisation.

Featuring Sir Winston Churchill, the plastic, rather the cotton paper note is cleaner, stronger and safer and will replace the existing £5 note by May 2017. It has a number of new security features which make it harder to counterfeit, including a see-through window and the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) foil which is gold on the front of the note and silver on the back.

Barclays’ preparations

It is estimated that retailers and banks have invested more than £200m to change their ATMs, self-service checkouts and other equipment. Preparations have been underway at Barclays for the last 18 months. This has included designing, coding and testing new software to be incorporated into hardware in branches, from ATMs to self-service kiosks, and recalibrating the machines to accept both the old and new notes. The old £5 notes will remain legal tender until May 2017. 

Barclays is the only bank to have an in-house ATM software development team, which means we are uniquely placed to be able to streamline software development, including the significant work that has taken place behind the scenes to get our ATMs and self-service kiosks ready for the new £5 note.

Cleaner, stronger and safer

Better for the environment, the new notes are made of a flexible plastic polymer which is resistant to dirt and moisture so will remain in a good condition for longer. When the note has reached the end of its life it will be recycled.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, even admitted: “Polymer notes can survive a splash of claret, a flick of cigar ash, the nip of a bulldog, and even a spin in the washing machine afterwards to boot.”

The new £5 note is the first in the Bank of England’s series of polymer notes. Plans are underway for a new £10 note to enter circulation in summer 2017, with a new £20 note by 2020. 

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