Paper or plastic? British pounds take a note from Australia

The Bank of England thinks paper pounds are rubbish. After 300 years of cotton-based paper notes, British pounds could be switching to polymer production, a process first designed by Aussies more than 25 years ago.

According to the Bank, plastic notes are cleaner, greener, more secure, cheaper to produce, and last at least 2.5 times as long as their paper predecessors. However, Deputy Governor Charles Bean noted that “the Bank of England would print notes on polymer only if we were persuaded that the public would continue to have confidence in, and be comfortable with, our notes.” A two-month public consultation period begins today, with a final decision expected to be announced in December.

If approved, five- and ten-pound notes will be the first to feel the switch, with the Churchill £5 note welcomed into wallets in 2016 at the earliest. Australia has been using plastic notes since 1988, and over 20 countries currently opt for plastic over paper, including New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, Canada, and Fiji.

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Motley Fool contributor Justin Loiseau has no position in any stocks mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter @TMFJLo.

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