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Wed 14 Sep 2016 10:46 AM

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UK introduces untearable plastic banknote

New plastic 10-pound note featuring the author of "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Austen, will appear in 2017

UK introduces untearable plastic banknote
Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney poses with a new polymer five pound note, at Whitecross Street Market, to promote the launch of the new bank note, in London, on September 13, 2016. The Bank of England will initially issue 440 million of the new polymer £5 notes ($6.7, 5.9 euros) and the old note will cease to be legal tender in May 2017. We expect polymer notes to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current generation of fivers and therefore reduce future costs of production, Carney said. (Stefan Wermuth/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bank of England introduced its first plastic banknote on Tuesday, with Governor Mark Carney dipping one of them into a bubbling container of chicken curry to prove its greater durability.

The new five pound notes, which feature World War Two leader Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth, will trickle through to cash machines and banks in England and Wales over the coming weeks.

They are made of a thin and flexible polymer, or plastic, which is cleaner and harder to forge than current cotton-based notes according to the central bank.

At a London street market, Carney tried to prove the point by ordering a chicken wrap at a food stall, then dipping one of the banknotes in a container from which food was being served.

"This is the most severe test we could put it under," Carney told reporters, before using the note to pay.

The notes are expected to last about five years - around two-and-a-half times as long as their predecessors.

The "new fiver" is the first plastic banknote to go into circulation in England and Wales. Scotland has had a limited amount of its own plastic five pound notes in circulation since March 2015, with mass issuance planned for October 2016.

Britain is one of the largest economies to adopt plastic banknotes and they are already in circulation in Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.

A new plastic 10-pound note featuring the author of "Pride and Prejudice", Jane Austen, will appear in 2017 and 19th century artist J.M.W. Turner, most famous for his seascapes, is due to feature on a plastic 20-pound note from 2020.

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