Polymer banknotes are banknotes made from a synthetic polymer such as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP). Such notes incorporate many security features not available in paper banknotes, including the use of metameric inks. Polymer banknotes last significantly longer than paper notes, causing a decrease in environmental impact and a reduced cost of production and replacement. Modern polymer banknotes were first developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and The University of Melbourne. They were first issued as currency in Australia during 1988 (coinciding with Australia's bicentennial year). In 1996 Australia switched completely to polymer banknotes. Romania was the first country in Europe to issue a plastic note in 1999 and became the third country after Australia and New Zealand to fully convert to polymer by 2003.
Other countries that have switched completely to polymer banknotes include: Vietnam (2006), Brunei (2006), Papua New Guinea (2008), Canada (2013), Maldives (2017), Mauritania (2017), Nicaragua (2017), Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) (2019) and Vanuatu (2017).
The latest countries to introduce polymer banknotes into General Circulation, Commemorative or Tyvek include: the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Chile, The Gambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, Mexico, Egypt, Singapore, Malaysia, Botswana, São Tomé and Príncipe, North Macedonia, the Russian Federation, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Morocco, Albania, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Israel, China, Kuwait, Mozambique, Saudi Arabia, Isle of Man, Guatemala, Haiti, Libya, Mauritius, Costa Rica, Honduras, Angola, Namibia and Lebanon.
In 1966, Australia switched to decimal currency. Counterfeiting of banknotes became a problem within a year of the new notes' introduction. In response, the Reserve Bank of Australia engaged CSIRO to develop a secure and durable replacement. Prof. David Solomon and Dr. Sefton Hayman led the research teams. The researchers focused on preventing photographic forgeries, studying holographic techniques and later incorporating optical transparency. They ultimately developed polymer banknote technology that is now used around the world under the brand name Guardian. The new polymer also reduced production costs as the notes last longer than those made with older technology.
In the 1980s, Canadian engineering company AGRA Vadeko and US chemical company US Mobil Chemical Company developed a polymer substrate trademarked as DuraNote. It had been tested by the Bank of Canada in the 1980s and 1990s; test C$20 and C$50 banknotes were auctioned in October 2012. It was also tested by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the United States Department of the Treasury in 1997 and 1998, when 40,000 test banknotes were printed and evaluated; and was evaluated by the central banks of 28 countries.
Polymer banknotes usually have three levels of security devices. Primary security devices are easily recognisable by consumers and can include transparent windows, diffraction grating and raised printing. Polymer banknotes can also include many of the same security features as paper banknotes, such as intaglio, metal strips, and microprinting. Secondary security devices are detectable by a machine. Tertiary security devices may only be detectable by the issuing authority when a banknote is returned.
Modern polymer banknotes were first developed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or CSIRO and first issued as currency in Australia during 1988, to coincide with Australia's bicentennial year.
In August 2012, Nigeria's Central Bank attempted the switch back from polymer to paper banknotes, saying there were "significant difficulties associated with the processing and destruction of the polymer banknotes" which had "constrained the realisation of the benefits expected from polymer banknotes over paper notes". However, President Goodluck Jonathan halted the process in September 2012.
In the United Kingdom, the first polymer banknotes were issued by the Northern Bank in Northern Ireland in 2000; these were a special commemorative issue bearing an image of the space shuttle.[Note 1] In March 2015, the Clydesdale Bank in Scotland began to issue polymer Sterling £5 notes marking the 125th anniversary of the building of the Forth Bridge. These were the first polymer notes to enter general circulation in the UK. The Royal Bank of Scotland followed in 2016 with a new issue of plastic £5 notes illustrated with a picture of author Nan Shepherd. In September 2016, the Bank of England began to issue £5 polymer notes with a picture of Winston Churchill; and in 2017 a polymer £10 began replacing its paper equivalent, featuring a picture of the author Jane Austen. A polymer £20 was issued in 2020 with a picture of J.M.W. Turner. The Bank of England has said it plans to change the final note, £50, to a polymer note. Although the new Bank of England notes will be 15% smaller than the older, paper issue, they will bear a similar design. Some businesses operating in the UK cash industry have opposed the switch to polymer, citing a lack of research into the cost impact of its introduction.
Timeline of adoptions and withdrawals
- Around 1982, Haiti released Tyvek-made Gourde banknotes in denominations of 1,2,50,100, 250 & 500. The same denominations and a 5 Gourdes banknote were also released on paper.
- In 1983, Costa Rica issued a 20 Colones Tyvek banknote. That year also the Isle of Man issued a 1 Pound banknote, this time called Bradvek and printed by Bradbury Wilkinson.
Tyvek did not perform well in trials; smudging of ink and fragility were reported as problems, so production of Tyvek banknotes was discontinued.
- In 1988, Australia introduced the 10 dollars world's first non-Tyvek polymer banknote to celebrate the bicentennial years of Australia.
- On 1991, Papua New Guinea issued its first 2 Kinas Banknote in polymer substrate to commemorate the 9th South Pacific Games held in the country.
- On 1993, Indonesia issued a Rp 50,000 commemorative banknote in conjunction with the 25th Years of Development by President Soeharto which is the first polymer banknote issued by Bank Indonesia.
- On 1996 , Brunei introduced its first polymer banknotes in denominations of 1, 5, 10 dollars.
- On 4 February 1998, Sri Lanka issued a රු.200 commemorative banknote in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Independence which is so far the only polymer banknote issued by Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
- By 1996, Australia had converted all of its denominations into polymer banknotes and became the first country in the world to do so.
- On 18 August 1997, Thailand issued its first polymer banknote, a 50 Baht denomination. On 1 October 2004 it was replaced by a redesigned version printed on paper.
- In 1998, Malaysia issued a RM50 commemorative banknote in conjunction with the XVI Commonwealth Games, the first polymer banknote ever issued by Bank Negara Malaysia.
- On May 1999, New Zealand converted all of its banknotes into polymer banknotes.
- On 1999, Indonesia introduced a Rp 100,000 polymer banknote in circulation, this is the first Rp 100,000 banknote issued by Bank Indonesia.
- In August 1999, In celebration of the total solar eclipse of August 11, 1999, the National Bank of Romania (BNR) decided to issue a commemorative two thousand Romanian lei banknote. Since it was the last eclipse of the millennium, the denomination was chosen to be 2000 in respect to the upcoming year. These notes were issued as legal tender.
- In June 1999, Taiwan issued its first polymer banknote to commemorate NT$50 years of New Taiwan dollar.
- In April, Brazil introduced R$10 polymer banknote were released as a special edition commemorating the country's 500th anniversary.
- In January, Bangladesh introduced the 10 taka polymer banknote, originally they were due to be issued in Victory day, a day big for Bangladeshis, but were delayed.
- In February, Kingdom of Nepal introduced a commemorative 10 rupees polymer banknote, on the occasion of King Gyanendra accession to throne after the Nepalese royal massacre. It was rendered obsolete when the Kingdom fell and was replaced by 2008.
- In September, Mexico switched the 20 peso denomination from paper to polymer banknotes. Two more new polymer notes issued in 2006, for 20-pesos (new design) and the 50-pesos and they issued a 100 peso with vertical design polymer banknote in 2020 .
- By 2003, Romania converted all of its banknotes into polymer banknotes. being the first European country in doing it.
- In October, Bank Negara Malaysia introduces a 5 ringgit polymer banknote into circulation, with the same design as the paper version. This was the first non-commemorative polymer banknote to be issued. Both polymer and paper versions were in circulation concurrently.
- In November, Bank Indonesia switched IDR 100000 polymer banknote into paper banknote with different design than polymer version.
- From December 2003 to August 2006, Vietnam adopted polymer banknote in 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 đồng for general circulation.
- By 2006, Brunei had adopted polymer banknotes for all its banknote denominations.
- The Australian Government agency CSIRO issued a non-legal tender polymer note to celebrate the 80th year of the formation of CSIRO. These notes were issued and distributed to staff members and at selected public events.
- The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region issued polymer banknotes for the first time. The banknotes are in $ 10 denomination.
- In August, Guatemala introduced polymer banknotes in denomination of 1 quetzal ,Also it released a 5 quetzal.
- On 13 April, Israel started to issue 20 ILS Banknotes, due to the high deterioration of 20 ILS paper banknotes. The Israeli polymer notes are printed by Orell Füssli Security Printing of Zürich, Switzerland.
- On 15 May, Nicaragua released new polymer ten and twenty Nicaragua córdoba banknotes to replace their paper counterparts. After an announcement from the Central Bank of Nicaragua in 2008 stated that a new 200 Córdoba banknote would be in circulation, it took the country an additional year to prepare its new set of banknotes. A new polymer two hundred and a hundred córdoba banknote was first issued on the first of June 2009. In December 2009, a new 50 banknote was released, later followed by a new 500 banknote that was issued on 12 January 2010.
- In September, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it will introduce 1 billion 10-rupee notes.
- In September, the Central Bank of Chile introduced the new series of the Chilean Peso, starting with the redesigned 5000 Pesos banknote.
- In June, The Central Bank of the Dominican Republic announced the introduction of a new polymer based 20 pesos bill.
- In October, The Central Bank of Chile announced the redesigned 2000 Pesos that went into circulation on 20 November, as a program to change the old designs and make them more secure.
- In November, the Bank of Canada introduced the Frontier Series $100 polymer banknote to modernise its currency and reduce counterfeiting. $50 banknotes were put into circulation in March 2012; the $20 note was put into circulation on 7 November 2012 with the $10 and $5 denominations released on 7 November 2013.
- In November, Guatemala introduced new polymer banknote in denomination of 5 quetzal.
- On 16 July, the Bank Negara Malaysia put new RM1 and RM5 polymer banknotes into circulation as part of a new banknote series.
- In April, the Reserve Bank of India introduce plastic/polymer currency note of ₹10 on a field trial basis in five cities in India.
- On 22 August, the Bank of Mauritius issued new 25-, 50-, and 500-rupee polymer banknotes which will circulate in parallel with the existing paper notes of the same denominations. The new polymer notes have almost the same design as the preceding paper banknotes, but contain numerous new security features such as transparent windows showing the image of the dodo, numbers printed with magnetic ink which become fluorescent under ultra violet light, and swing features printed in iridescent ink, which change to a different colour when observed in transparency or when tilted. The 25-, and 50-rupee notes are printed by Oberthur Technologies on Innovia Security's Guardian substrate and the 500-rupee note is printed by De La Rue on its Safeguard (formerly Flexycoin) substrate.
- On 22 November, Banque de Liban issued a 50,000 pounds banknote in polymer to commemorate the country's 70th anniversary of independence.
- In 2013 ,the Bank of England announced that it would adopt polymer notes.
- In 2014, the Banque du Liban issued a 50,000 pounds banknote in polymer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Banque du Liban.
- The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu introduced polymer banknotes in denominations of 200, 1,000 and 2,000 vatu.
- On 5 August, the National Bank of Poland issued 50,000 20 złotych polymer banknotes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Polish Legions.
- On 20 July, the Central Bank of the Gambia issued a 20 Dalasis banknote printed on De La Rue's Safeguard polymer substrate. It commemorates "20 Years of Progress and Self-Reliance", coinciding with President Yahya Jammeh's 20 years in office as President.
- On 28 November, the Central Bank of Mauritania issued a 1,000 Ouguiya banknote on Innovia Security's Guardian substrate.
- On 15 December, the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago issued a TT$50 note printed on polymer to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Central Bank of Trinidad & Tobago.
- On 23 December, the Banco de Cabo Verde issued a new family of escudo banknotes that honour Cape Verdean figures in the fields of literature, music, and politics. One note in the new series is the 200 escudos banknote, now printed on polymer.
- The Reserve Bank of New Zealand introduced a new family of notes with improved security features, with the 5 and 10 in October 2015, and the 20, 50 and 100 dollar banknotes in April 2016.
- Clydesdale Bank issued two million 5 pound notes, printed in polymer. It features a portrait of Sir William Arrol and an image of the Forth Bridge.
- The Reserve Bank of India announced plans to introduce polymer banknotes on a pilot basis and improve security features to defeat the efforts of counterfeiter
- The Banque du Liban issued a 50,000 pounds banknote in polymer to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Lebanese Army.
- The Bank of Papua New Guinea issued 10 and 20 kina notes in polymer, one to commemorate the XV Pacific Games and the other to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Papua New Guinean independence.
- The Maldives Authority Monetary introduced a new family of banknotes printed on De La Rue's "Safeguard" polymer substrate. A commemorative 5,000 Rufiyaa banknote was issued in July 2015, and followed by the 5-,10-, 20-, 50-, 100-, 500 and a new denomination of 1,000 Rufiyaa in October 2015.
- The Monetary Authority of Singapore issued a set of polymer banknotes to commemorate the nation's 50th Anniversary of independence . It consists of five S$10 notes and a commemorative S$50 note.
- On 9 September, the Bank of Canada (Banque du Canada) issued a C$ 20 polymer banknote to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's milestone as the longest-reigning monarch in Canada's modern era. It is similar to the regular issue 20 dollar Frontier Series polymer note, but the notable features for the commemorative note are the metallic portrait of the queen, based on a photograph taken by renowned Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh, the metallic symbol including the Queen's monogram surmounted by the St. Edward's crown, surrounded by a garland of maple leaves and the text "A HISTORIC REIGN • UN RÈGNE HISTORIQUE" repeated at the top, center and bottom of the large window.
- The Banco Central de Nicaragua issued a new family of notes on 26 October 2015. They are printed in polymer, except for the 500 cordobas banknote, which is printed on cotton paper substrate.
- The Government of Gibraltar issued a £100 polymer banknote to commemorate Sir Joshua Hassan's 22 years as Chief Minister in the first half of 2016.
- The Royal Bank of Scotland issued 5 and 10 pounds banknotes in 2016 and 2017, respectively. The notes were printed on De La Rue's Safeguard polymer substrate.
- On 1 September, the Reserve Bank of Australia issued a A$5 polymer note with improved security features and a tactile feature to assist those with visual impairments.
- On 13 September 2016 the Bank of England began issuing the new polymer £ 5 note, the first to be issued in England and Wales and in the Polymer Series.
- On 17 March, the Reserve Bank of India announced that it will do trials of polymer 10 rupees notes at five locations in India.
- The Bank of Canada (Banque du Canada) unveiled a C$10 polymer banknote to commemorate the 150th anniversary of confederation. It was issued on 1 June.
- In September, The Bank of England issued a polymer £10 note.
- Banco Central de Sao Tome and Principe issued polymer banknote in denominations of 5 and 10 dobra.
- The National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia issued 10- and 50-denari polymer banknotes as part of a new series.
- The Bank of Mauritius has issued a 2,000-rupees banknote printed on polymer substrate and with revised security features, while at the same time all previous versions of the 2,000-rupees paper banknote will cease to be legal tender by the end of January 2019.
- In September 2018 the Central Bank of Uruguay (BCU) printed a special and experimental edition of polymer banknotes with a value of 50 UYU to test reception and to celebrate the bank 50th anniversary, that was in 2017, producing 10,000,000 units.
- The Central Bank of Libya has issued a 1 Dinar banknote on 17 February 2019, in commemoration of the 8th Anniversary of the Libyan Revolution of 2011.
- Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Ulster Bank, commercial banks in Northern Ireland, each issued a new series of pound banknotes on polymer substrate for general use in Northern Ireland on 27 February 2019.
- The Central Bank of Samoa announced the release of a new 10 Tala polymer banknote in June 2019, to commemorate the XVI Pacific Games 2019 which were held in Samoa from 7 July 2019. The 10 Tala banknote will be the second polymer banknote issued in Samoa and the first carbon offset banknote created from the polymer substrate. The new banknote is one of a kind for Samoa as it will have a horizontal front and a vertical back. The Banknote will feature a see through window depicting the Pacific Games logo, and a tactile embossed feature to assist the visually impaired, both are unique features of polymer banknotes. The standard banknote prefix has been replaced with the special PG/XVI prefix denoting “XVI Pacific Game”. Issuance of the new 10 Tala note will commence the last week of June 2019, and will co-circulate together with the existing 10 tala banknotes which will remain legal tender.
- Central bank of Morocco introduced 20 dirham polymer banknote to mark years of enthronement of Mohammed VI's.
- Bank of Albania introduced a new 200 Lek polymer banknote on 30 September 2019.
- The Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago issued a TT$100 polymer banknote for circulation on 9 December 2019, while announcing that all versions of the paper TT$100 banknotes will be demonetized and withdrawn from circulation on 31 December 2019.
- On February 20, Bank of England issued a 20 pounds polymer banknote. This is the third banknote in the polymer series.
- On March 25, Bank of Namibia issued a 30 dollar polymer banknote to commemorate 30 years of independence.
- On July 7, National Bank of Angola issued a 200, 500, 1000, 2000 Kwanzas to be issued in polymer substrate.
- On July 25, Bank of Costa Rica issued a new family of polymer banknote in denominations of 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000 colons.
- On September 30, Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago issued a new polymer banknote family in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 dollar as the 100 polymer dollar banknote in 2019.
- On October 4, Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority has announced the five riyals banknote will be switched to polymer, replacing the current paper banknote, without any announcement on the other banknotes. The banknote was said to feature more environmentally friendly materials and additional security features, in addition to a much longer lifespan.
- On November 21, Banco de Mexico released a 100 peso Polymer Banknote as a part of new series.
- On December 5, Banque du Liban released a 100000 pounds polymer banknote in circulation to commemorate the centenary of the establishment of Greater Lebanon.
- On January 8, Bank of Cape Verde introduced a new 200-escudo note like the preceding issue printed in polymer, but printed on cotton paper.
- On February 15, Central Bank of Libya released a new 5 Libyan Dinar polymer banknote to commemorate 10th anniversary of First Libyan Civil War.
- On June 23, Bank of England is due to issue a polymer £50 banknote. This will be the fourth and final banknote in the polymer series.
- Banknotes of the Australian dollar
- Banknotes of the Canadian dollar
- Hybrid Paper Polymer Banknote
- Although the £5 Northern Bank polymer banknote was a one-off commemorative issued, unconventionally, in portrait orientation to mark the year 2000, it was in general circulation, with normal serial numbers (the commemorative version has serial numbers beginning with "Y2K", normal versions with "MM"). It is the only Northern Bank note currently in circulation which was not affected by the recall of all the bank's notes as a result of the 26.5 million pound raid on its Belfast headquarters on 20 December 2004.
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- "Samoa new 10-tala". Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- "Morocco introduces new polymer banknote to mark 20 years of enthronement". Stevenbron.nl.
- "Seria e Re e Kartëmonedhave". Bank of Albania (in Albanian). Retrieved 3 October 2019.
- "Trinidad and Tobago unveiled 100 dollar polymer banknote". News.Gov.TT.
- "Bank of England issues new 20 pounds polymer banknote". Bank of England.
- "New polymer banknote to commemorate 30 years of independence in Namibia". coinupdate.
- "New series of banknote to introduced in Angola". coinupdate.
- "Costa Rica announces new polymer banknotes". Stevenbron.nl.
- "Costa Rica announces last polymer banknotes for 2021". Stevenbron.nl.
- "Trinidad and Tobago unveiled a new polymer banknotes series". Stevenbron.nl.
- "Sama Introduces The Five Riyal Denomination Made Of Polymer ... And It Will Start Circulating On October 5th". Retrieved 4 October 2020.
- "Mexico released a new Vertical Polymer Banknote". Coin World.
- "New 100000 banknote released to commemorate establishment of Lebanon". Platform.Keesing Technologies.
- Cape Verde new paper 200-escudo note (B222a) reportedly introduced on 08.01.2021 Banknotenews.com, February 5, 2021
- "New 5 Libyan Dinar Polymer Banknote". The Libyan Observer.
- "New Alan Turing £50 note design is revealed". BBC News. 25 March 2021. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Polymer banknotes.|
- PolymerNotes.org by Stane Štraus
- Currency Note Research and Development Project from the University of Melbourne
- Professor David Solomon – Inventor of Plastic Bank Note Wins 2006 Victoria Prize from the University of Melbourne
- Polymer banknotes from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
- Note Printing Australia
- PolymerNotes.de (in German) by Thomas Krause
- New Kuwaiti Dinar notes released by Kuwait News Agency.
- Costs of introducing polymer notes in the UK by CMS Payments Intelligence.