13 September 2016

Bank of England launches new £5 note

The launch of a new polymer £5 note should be music to the ears of anyone who’s ever accidentally damaged their hard-earned money. 

In the first stage of its plan to make the UK’s paper money more hard-wearing, the Bank of England will officially introduce the enhanced £5 today

At a glance

  • It’s made from polymer, a robust plastic material

  • The note will feature images of the Queen and Sir Winston Churchill

  • It will gradually replace the existing paper £5 note over the coming eight months

  • The polymer fiver ultimately aims to be cleaner, stronger and more secure.

The new £5 polymer note

Play video - New £5 Polymer Note Polymer note video thumbnail

By making use of polymer, a flexible plastic material, it’s hoped the reinvented £5 note will be more durable, with less risk of counterfeiting. It should also be cleaner, reducing the spread of germs.

Although they’ll be roughly 15% smaller than the ones we’re used to, polymer banknotes will still feature the traditional image of Queen Elizabeth II, along with pictures of famous Britons who have contributed to the country’s long history. Sir Winston Churchill is the star of the new £5 note.

Accessing the new fiver

Many Nationwide customers will be able to access the improved £5 note from Tuesday. Our Cardiff, Manchester, Threadneedle Street and Croft branches have all been selected as early adopters of the new fiver, meaning their cash machines will stock it from the get-go.

Once they enter circulation, the new notes will gradually make their way across the UK – meaning all shoppers and bank customers will encounter them before too long. By the end of the first month, it’s hoped most of the 5,200 ATMs which dispense £5 notes will stock them.

The new fiver will be used alongside the traditional paper £5 note until May of next year. From then, the paper note will no longer be legal tender, although you’ll still be able to exchange it with help from the Bank of England.

Stronger, cleaner and more secure

The introduction of polymer notes may prove beneficial if you’ve ever torn or spilt water on your money. Around 1,800 fivers had to be replaced last year because they were accidentally washed, according to experts at the Bank of England. Thankfully, the new notes are washing machine proof and a lot stronger than paper. They should stay in circulation two and a half times longer than paper notes.

The design of the new fiver also places more emphasis on hygiene. By offering greater resistance to dirt, it should stop germs from spreading as widely.

As an extra benefit, polymer notes should help to make our currency system more secure. The new fiver features a see-through window and a foil Elizabeth Tower image, meaning it’s much more difficult to counterfeit.

Beyond the £5 note

The launch of the polymer £5 note is just the beginning of the Bank of England’s plans to enhance Britain’s currency.

An improved £10 note is due to be introduced in the summer of next year, including an image of iconic writer Jane Austen. By the end of the decade, a polymer £20 note is also expected, with artist JMW Turner set to feature.

For more information on the new £5 note and what it means for your personal finances, check out the Bank of England’s micro-site.

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