Week 12: Money and Me

This week's missions are all about money! How does it work and what is it?

More From Week 12: Money and Me

Mission 5: Polymer Banknotes

This week's missions are all about money! What is it and how does it work? Today we're looking at polymer banknotes...

We’ve looked at loads to do with money this week including what it is, how it works and what The Bank of England does.

Today we’re finding out all about the new banknotes! You may remember a few years ago when it was a big deal that the new polymer notes came out.

But what are the polymer bank notes and how do they work?

Listen to this clip…

What are the polymer banknotes made of?

Plastic, that’s what a polymer is.

Whilst it might sound a bit – well, weird to make bank notes out of a plastic, polymer is a thin, flexible and very strong material that has lots of qualities that make it a really good choice for bank notes.

One of which is that they’re tough enough to survive a spin in the wash and are easy to wipe clean too!

The new polymer £5 notes are printed at the Bank of England Print works in Essex.

They’re made from a see-through plastic film that’s specially coated with an ink layer that enables it to carry a very detailed printed design.

The design is made that way on purpose to make it hard to copy.

What makes the new polymer notes so good?

They have better security features than the old notes (these are the things that make the notes unique and hard to copy and make fakes of).

As well as a see-through window with images and foil patches that show different words when you tilt them, polymer notes have raised writing.

For example, when you run your finger across the front of the new fiver, you can feel raised print around the words “Bank of England” and the number five.

Not only do they have these better security features, polymer notes are also much better for the environment than paper notes.

That’s because they should last at least 2 and a half times longer than a paper note and so the Bank has to print fewer notes, which means less energy is used in manufacturing and moving them around the country. And when a polymer note has reached the end of its life it can be recycled.

Was England the first country to have the polymer notes?

Over 30 countries already use polymer notes – so you may already have seen some if you’ve visited Australia, Canada or Fiji.

You keep saying that the security features are better, can you give some more examples?


Have a look at this video from The Bank of England that tells you the security features of the £10 note…

All these things make the notes really hard to copy so you can tell if it’s a fake.

Your mission is to complete this quiz…

Click here to find out more about The Bank of England and polymer bank notes

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Week 12: Money and Me

This week's missions are all about money! How does it work and what is it?

More From Week 12: Money and Me