Chief cashier flashes cash to note views on plastic fivers
The chief cashier of the Bank of England, whose signature appears on notes issued by the UK's central bank, has visited Northern Ireland to seek views on moving from paper to plastic tender.
Chris Salmon said the Bank will start by introducing polymer fivers featuring Winston Churchill in 2016, followed by polymer tenners with Jane Austen's image in 2017 – if it feels it has the public's blessing after a consultation up to November 15.
He was at Bangor's Bloomfield Shopping Centre on Tuesday, speaking about the plans and even giving the opportunity to handle prototoypes.
"We're trying to understand the public's reaction if we were to make a move to polymer notes and want to understand the public's attitudes before a decision."
While the bank had not yet tallied up the comments received in Bangor, he said that of all its events across the UK, "the weight was on the positive side".
Around 30 central banks including Australia and Canada introduced polymer notes but Brazil reverted to paper after finding plastic, not so fantastic.
Mr Salmon said the benefits would be longer-lasting notes which would last around 2.5 times longer than paper notes – for example, a fiver would last at least six years in polymer compared to just two years in paper.
They were also tougher to counterfeit – but production costs were higher in the short-term. "It costs only a few pence to produce a paper bank note. A polymer bank note would cost about 80% to 90% more. But because they last longer our cost benefit analysis is that over 10 years we would spend between 10 and 25% less on producing the notes on polymer.
"We'd save up to £100m in ten years if we moved to polymer."
Should the Bank of England proceed, there would be no extra pressure on Northern Ireland's banks to follow suit.