May 19, 2014

The Tipping Point for Polymer Banknotes

May 19, 2014 – Is it possible that we have reached the tipping point for polymer banknotes, asks Brendan Burge, in his article ‘The Tipping Point for Polymer Banknotes’. A recent article in the Central Banking Journal suggests that, with the adoption of polymer in Canada and the recent announcement that the Bank of England will issue five pound and 10 pound banknotes on polymer substrate, we might have the beginnings of a tidal wave of adoption by other countries — in particular, those of the G8, he says.

According to Burge, the U.S. and Japan are notable holdouts at this time. Their reluctance to introduce polymer notwithstanding, there are significant benefits to making a change, including – environmental friendliness; increased banknote lifespan; and reduced counterfeiting. However, as noted in the Central Banking Journal article, there might be regional reasons for not switching to polymer.

Apparently Nigeria is considering a move back to paper, primarily for reasons of ink durability. The fact that they have not yet done so might indicate that substrate manufacturers and printers are addressing this unique challenge with accelerated research and development, says Burge.

Whatever the outcome of decisions – pro or con – by Nigeria and other early adopter countries, we conclude wholeheartedly that we are at the tipping point for polymer banknotes.

No matter the substrate chosen for new banknotes, it must never be overlooked that the war with counterfeiters will be endless. It is a war of one-upmanship, says Burge. “When countries introduce new banknotes, enterprising criminals will inevitably find a way to convincingly reproduce them.” 



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