Use of Paper Banknotes in UK Ends Sept. 30

Bank of England, crypto, Jon Cunliffe

Sept. 30 marks the end of an era for British money as the Bank of England (BoE) will be withdrawing the legal tender status of paper 20-pound and 50-pound banknotes.

After this date, businesses will no longer be accepting these banknotes as payment, according to a BoE announcement. They will be replaced by new polymer notes.

The BoE started withdrawing the old bills from circulation when the newer polymer 10-pound and 20-pound notes were first issued in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Paper money issued by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland is also subject to the same deadline, BoE stated.

Since paper 5-pound and 10-pound notes ceased to be legal tender in 2017, the new status means that the 100-pound notes issued by the Bank of Scotland will be the last paper note in circulation in the United Kingdom. A polymer version of the 100-pound note was issued in May this year.

While the material may have changed, polymer banknotes have continued the design traditions of the BoE, with each bill featuring the monarch on one side and a historical figure of national significance on the other.

See also: Future of Banknotes, Coins Depicting Era-Defining UK Monarch

Although the majority of paper 20-pound and 50-pound banknotes in circulation have already been replaced, the BoE said there are over 5 billion pounds worth of paper 20-pound bills and nearly 6 billion pounds worth of paper 50-pound bills still in circulation. That’s more than 250 million individual 20-pound bills and more than 110 million paper 50-pound bills.

While British consumers will still be able to exchange old banknotes at some bank and post office branches after the deadline and at the BoE on Threadneedle street in perpetuity, that hasn’t stopped holders of the old money from flocking to London to exchange their money before the deadline.

The BoE said its public counter “is experiencing extremely high demand. There will be long queues and you may encounter waiting times in excess of two hours.”

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