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UK gets first plastic banknotes

AAP logoAAP 13/09/2016

A new plastic PS5 note that features Sir Winston Churchill and can survive a spin in the washing machine has started to enter circulation in the United Kingdom.

The polymer fiver is said by the Bank of England to be cleaner, safer and stronger than paper notes, lasting about five years longer.

The first print-run of 440 million new fivers marks the start of the old notes' withdrawal as they are banked by retailers and businesses.

While some people may start to see the new fiver immediately at cash machines and bank counters, for others it may take a few weeks.

The central bank has been working with the cash industry to help get machines ready for the new PS5 notes. It said not all machines will be ready from day one and it will continue to work with businesses to ensure a smooth transition.

The old fiver, featuring prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, can still be used in shops until it ceases to become legal tender after May 5, 2017.

The new PS5 note paves the way for a new generation of security features, making it harder to counterfeit. They include a see-through window featuring the Queen's portrait as well as Big Ben shown in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back.

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