The Bank of England unveiled its first plastic banknote on Thursday (June 2), which is a polymer £5 bill sporting an image of Sir Winston Churchill.
The move to offer a plastic note is a significant one, noted The Guardian, as the Bank of England has only supported paper money since it began over 320 years ago.
The new fiver will be issued on Sept. 13, 2016, and is described as being “cleaner, safer and stronger than paper notes,” in a press release from the bank.
“It incorporates advanced security features making the notes even harder to counterfeit. The polymer is also harder wearing, as well as resistant to dirt and moisture, so we expect it to last for at least 2.5 times longer,” Bank of England Governor Mark Carney added during the unveiling of the note at Blenheim Palace, Churchill’s place of birth.
Once the plastic note is introduced in September, the paper £5 notes will slowly be removed from circulation. By May 2017, they will no longer be accepted as legal tender. However, even after this date, the Bank of England will still allow people to exchange paper notes for plastic ones.
The bank confirmed that, in summer 2017, a new polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen will enter circulation, followed by the £20 note featuring J.M.W. Turner by 2020.
It’s said that the new five pound note, as well as the additional polymer banknotes that will follow it, allow for a new generation of security features that will help to protect against counterfeiting.
These include a see-through window, multiple holograms, micro-lettering that is only visible under a microscope and select words printed in raised ink.
“The note is also resistant to dirt and moisture and so remains in much better condition for longer. The strength of the polymer material means that the new fiver is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer — around five years — even after being folded into wallets and scrunched up in pockets,” the bank’s press release continued.