Britain May Drop Paper Bills for Plastic Currency

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Paper or plastic? Britons may not have a choice much longer.

The Bank of England is considering a switch to polymer currency and will make a final decision in December, CNNMoney says. The new bills would gradually be phased in, starting with smaller denominations in 2016.

Paper currency has been used there for more than three centuries, CNNMoney says. Countries such as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand all use polymer.

Us? Our money has more in common with a T-shirt.

“The ordinary paper that consumers use throughout their everyday life such as newspapers, books, cereal boxes, etc., is primarily made of wood pulp; however, United States currency paper is composed of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen,” the Bureau of Engraving and Printing says. “This is what gives United States currency its distinct look and feel.”

The advantages to polymer over paper include better security and durability, CNNMoney says. A £5 note lasts about two years, while a polymer version would last five. Polymer could come here, although there aren’t any current plans to use it.

“As polymer becomes more common and more accepted within the industry, you can expect all central banks to at least consider it,” Tim Cobbold, chief executive of banknote printer De La Rue, told CNNMoney.

From experience, I can say that polymer feels a little slicker, but it’s not sticky like plastic wrap or stiff like a credit card. You might not even notice the difference.

Would you want to see the U.S. make the switch to polymer currency, or do you like the look, feel and durability of what we have? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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