Why Scotland is switching to plastic banknotes

Clydesdale Bank's �5 plastic note. Picture: PA
Clydesdale Bank's �5 plastic note. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

THE first plastic banknotes in Britain entered circulation in March when Clydesdale Bank unveiled its new fiver.

The note, made of a more durable material than existing paper notes, was launched to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge.

It is very important that people have confidence in our banknotes

David Wheldon, RBS

Two million notes with a value of £10 million, which combine images of the bridge with new security measures to create a unique design, will eventually enter circulation.

What makes them different to previous banknotes?

The new £5 note is smaller than existing notes of that denomination. It was designed by De La Rue plc, and, in a first for Europe, was manufactured on its Safeguard polymer substrate. The note includes a ‘Spark Orbital’ security feature - a shiny ink in the shape of Scotland over a transparent window which changes colour as the note is tilted.

When will other Scottish banks issue their own plastic notes?

Bank of Scotland will issue its own polymer £5 and £10 banknotes next year. The design of the main replacement polymer £5 note will be unveiled in early 2016, with the note itself issued in the second half of the year. It will be followed around a year later by the polymer £10 note.

What about RBS?

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), the second largest issuer of banknotes in Scotland by volume, will also print its next generation of £5 and £10 banknotes on polymer rather than cotton paper. It’s anticipated that the new £5 note will be issued in the second half of 2016, with the £10 note following a year later. The notes will be completely redesigned, including new subjects for the portraits. These designs are due to be partially unveiled in the coming months.

David Wheldon, RBS chief marketing officer said: “It is very important that people have confidence in our banknotes. The move to polymer notes will bring significant benefits to all those who use them. They will be smaller, cleaner and more secure.”