Today, the new polymer £20 note featuring artist JMW Turner has entered circulation for the first time. The new note will start appearing in ATMs and tills throughout the country and it’s expected that half of all ATMs across the UK will be dispensing polymer £20s two weeks after issue.
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The polymer £20 is the most secure banknote yet, according to Bank of England.
It includes two see-through windows and a two colour foil which make it very difficult to counterfeit.
The note will join the Churchill £5 and the Austen £10 in the first series of polymer notes.
The new £20 banknote will then be joined by a new polymer £50, featuring Alan Turing, next year.
Speaking at Tate Britain, which houses The Turner Bequest, Governor Mark Carney said: “Our banknotes celebrate the UK’s extraordinarily rich and diverse heritage and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens.
“Turner’s art was transformative. I am delighted that the work of arguably the single most influential British artist of all time will now appear on another two billion works of art – the new £20 notes that people can start using today.”
Turner’s self-portrait, as featured on the new £20 note, is currently on display at Tate Britain alongside the banknote.
Home to the Turner Bequest which includes 300 oil paintings and many thousands of sketches and watercolours, Tate Britain will also present a major new exhibition dedicated to Turner later this year, Turner’s Modern World.
Turner’s Modern World at Tate Britain will run from 28 October 2020 to 7 March 2021 and will bring together major works by Turner from around the world, more details can be found on their website.
To bring the new note to life, the Bank has worked with Snapchat to develop a lens that allows the public to see their cash in a new dimension through augmented reality.
The new £20 note is the first to feature the signature of Sarah John, the Bank’s current Chief Cashier.
She said: “Moving the £20 note to polymer marks a major step forward in our fight against counterfeiting. I am very grateful to everyone across the cash industry who has made this transition possible and I hope the public enjoys using their new Turner £20s.”
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There are over two billion £20 notes in circulation. Laid end to end, two billion polymer £20 notes would stretch around the world almost seven times and weigh a total of 1780 tonnes – that’s over 141 double-decker buses.
Paper £20 notes can continue to be used as normal and the Bank will give six months’ notice ahead of legal tender status being withdrawn.
Why is the change taking place?
Britain is joining the list of more than 30 countries that already use plastic banknotes, including Australia which adopted the notes in 1988, and Singapore and New Zealand.
The polymer notes are believed to last more than twice as long as paper money.
As well as being less likely to tear, the notes only begin to melt at 120C and have been designed to repel dirt and moisture.
The Bank of England also hopes the new notes will be much more difficult for fraudsters to copy successfully.
How can you get your hands on a new £20 banknote?
The new £20 notes will be available for exchange at the Bank of England Counter from 9am and some major ATM across the nation.
When will old paper £20 notes be unusable?
The old £20 notes made from paper will be phased out shortly after the polymer ones are introduced.
But people will still be able to use the paper £20 note until the Bank of England withdraws it from circulation.
The Bank of England will announce the date of the withdrawal after it has issued the new note, and will give a six months’ notice of the date to give Britons enough time to spend or exchange their old notes.
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