Sept 11 - The Bank of England is moving closer to ditching paper pounds and following Australia and Canada into switching to plastic banknotes instead. But as Hayley Platt reports it will be the public that gets the casting vote.
Paying with plastic may be about to take on a whole new meaning in the UK Britian's central bank is considering ditching its paper bank notes for polymer Durable plastic is cleaner and harder to copy. Victoria Cleland is head of bank notes at the Bank of England. SOUNDBITE: Victoria Cleland, Head of Notes Division, Bank of England, saying (English): "I'm not saying we'll produce a note that no-one can counterfeit what we're trying to do is to raise the bar to make counterfeiting a high quality note as difficult as possible as time consuming as possible and as costly as possible." The Bank of England has been issuing bank notes made from cotton pulp since 1694. They were first used to raise money for King William III's war against France. It's clearly proved it's worth over the years but now plastic seems to be taking over the world. Australia ditched paper in 1988 and 19 countries followed suit, including New Zealand, Mexico and most recently Singapore. Canada too has them - no coincidence perhaps that its former bank governor now runs the Bank of England SOUNDBITE: Victoria Cleland, Head of Notes Division, Bank of England, saying (English): "The main benefits they've seen have been in a reduction of counterfeits and the notes lasting longer, at least two and a half times longer sometimes up to six times longer." Plastic notes cost more to make but polymer's waterproof and is expected to get cheaper. That doesn't mean everyone approves. SOUNDBITE: Unidentified Canadian man, saying (English): "A lot of people complain in Canada that when it gets a bit warm they stick together and they're a bit hard to count when you have a lot of them." SOUNDBITE: Unidentified woman, saying (English): "I have an issue with the plastic, it is going to get scratched." A series of roadshows will be held before a decision is taken in December. If feedback is positive plastic 5 and 10 pound notes could be introduced within three years.