Plastic fantastic: The new fiver has gone into circulation today
00:24, Sep 14, 2016
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A new polymer banknote featuring wartime leader Winston Churchill went into circulation on Tuesday in Britain - one of the first European countries with notes that, literally, can be laundered.
The new note is stronger than the current note, said Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England. It is also more robust, meaning it will survive longer than its paper predecessor after repeated folding or scrunching, even after a spin in the washing machine.
440m new fivers have been printed and are readily available for issue from cash machines and bank counters across the UK.
The BBC claim only a handful of banks and ATMs will receive the durable polymer notes - in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Hull and Cardiff.
The Bank has said the new notes are as thin and flexible for folding as paper ones, though they can feel slippery.
In Northern Ireland, where some commercial banks have the right to issue their own notes, polymer notes have been in circulation since 1999. They include a see-through window featuring the Queen's portrait as well as Big Ben shown in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back.
The New Fiver boasts a number of security features that make it that bit trickier for fraudsters.
A new polymer £20 note will arrive by 2020, but at present there are no plans to change the £50 note.
The News and Star reports that Innovia Films, the company with the contract to supply the polymer to the Bank of England for its bank notes, will also produce the plastic substrate for other central banks around the world.
Some 440 million new plastic fivers have been created and will gradually enter circulation.
"This is the most severe test we could put it under", Carney told reporters, before using the note to pay.
In Scotland, Clydesdale Bank issued two million £5 polymer banknotes in March 2015 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge.
Jane Austen, however, will become the first female author to feature on British banknotes.
As a result, the current paper £5 notes will stop being legal tender in May 2017. It is resistant to dirt and moisture, so the note won't wear out as quickly as the current fivers but will stay in good condition for longer.
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