Days of paper cash numbered, says Ulster Bank at unveiling of polymer notes
Paper notes issued by banks in Northern Ireland will disappear from circulation in the next three to four years, the head of Ulster Bank has said.
The claim came as the bank prepared to put its new polymer £5 and £10 notes into circulation from next Wednesday.
The lender said the portrait-shaped currency lasted 2.5 times longer than traditional notes and featured anti-fraud measures.
Based on the theme of 'living in nature', the £5 note features images of Strangford Lough and Brent Geese.
The £10 note, meanwhile, depicts Lough Erne, the Irish hare and Guelder rose shrubs.
Last week First Trust became the first of Northern Ireland's four main banks to announce it would stop printing notes.
It said it had taken "a commercial decision" to pull all its currency by June 2022 and issue Bank of England notes instead.
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Richard Donnan, head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, told the Belfast Telegraph the bank decided two years ago to keep making polymer notes.
"All the banks are making a move to polymer. We looked at it and we decided to make the investment to continue to issue our own notes," Mr Donnan said.
"Over time you will see the paper notes being pulled out of circulation."
However, he predicted it would be another three to four years before paper notes issued by Northern Ireland banks became a thing of the past.
Ulster Bank's paper £5 and £10 notes are scheduled to be withdrawn from circulation in the coming months.
Security features on the new polymer notes include colour-shifting ink in the shape of the Ulster Bank logo, and an emboss which can be found on a clear window in the note itself.
The bank said that it had consulted around 60 people while working on the project.
Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, added: "Even with the rise of digital methods, cash is still an important part of how people chose to bank, and usage in Northern Ireland is higher than in other parts of the UK.
"That's why we've worked hard to make our new notes safe, secure and designed in such a way that people from Northern Ireland can be proud of them."