From September, the Bank of England will be printing new £5 notes on thin plastic material – polymer to be precise. The original notes will still be valid but if you and your members of staff handle money then you all need to be aware of the changes. Now is the time to start thinking about how you can make the transition as smooth as possible for your business and your customers.
Why the change?
Bank of England banknotes are large by international standards. Smaller notes mean less material will be used in production, which will reduce manufacturing costs and help the environment. Polymer notes are cleaner, more resistant to dirt and moisture and will last up to two and a half times longer. However, because it is printed with ink, and the nature of the plastic, clear areas or windows can be integrated into the design this makes it much more difficult to copy.
The new £5
Apart from the new feel, the big thing you’ll notice about the new fiver is that it is smaller than the current one. You’ll still find a portrait of Her Majesty on the front, with Sir Winston Churchill bearing down on you on the back.
Hot on the heels of the new £5 note will be the new £10; launching in the second half of 2017. Similarly, the £10 will be smaller and will bear the novelist Jane Austen on the reverse. Then a new £20 will arrive by 2020. Once all the new notes have been introduced, the old ones will gradually be withdrawn from circulation.
Brief staff – Everyone will need to be able to recognise and authenticate the new notes when they begin hitting your tills – the last thing you need is an irate customer should a member of staff refuse their note! And equally, staff need to be aware of counterfeit notes too. The full design and security features were unveiled by the Bank of England on 2 June 2016 with a range of support materials available, why not have a quick training session with your staff. Visit bankofengland.co.uk/pages/ subscribe for more information.
ATMs – if your business has an on-site ATM, you’ll need to arrange a software update to implement the change of note. Talk to your manufacturers and book in ASAP because they are going to be busy!
Can customers pay with an old fiver?
Yes. All Bank of England notes retain their face value for all time, so it is fine to accept them from customers. If your bank, building society or Post Office is not willing to accept old notes then they can be exchanged with the Bank of England in London by post, or in person.