Put It On Plastic

Hurrah! The United Kingdom is finally catching up with the Third World. I mean, the Developing World. What’s the correct term for today? The Economically Challenged World? Who knows. Anyway, we are, like I said, catching up. We will soon be joining the likes of Fiji, Vietnam, Romania, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal,  Sri Lanka, Thailand, Samoa, Singapore and Zambia.

Pound Sterling notes will, from 2016, be printed on plastic. Or more precisely, polymer. Of course, there are a few ‘advanced’ countries already printing on polymer. Australia has been printing on plastic for decades. Their early adoption, no doubt, was to prevent counterfeiting, being a country full of thieves, bandits and no good varmits.

Am I being harsh on the poor Aussies? I’ve never been there, but they have just given us a good thrashing at cricket, so it seems to me that a bit of slander and abuse is entirely appropriate. Indeed, questions regarding their parenthood are very much on the table. Besides, there’s a bridge nearby which spells out what sort of stock they are made from.


Canada too has polymer notes. Presumably plastic freezes better than cotton paper. I’m a little surprised that Israel made the jump. Surely all that plastic must confuse the explosives detectors? Unless they use the ingenious British made bomb detectors that <sarcasm> proved themselves so effective </sarcasm> in Iraq. I wonder if they ever did bring out the version with flashing lights?

But I digress. Back to the plastic notes. Will the British public approve? Begads, why even consult them?! That’s just asking for trouble. Half of them believe in aliens, the other half are struggling to work out who fathered who’s child. Have you not seen Jeremy Kyle? It’s scary viewing. Decision making should be kept well away from them. But consult them they did. What was the feedback? Who knows, but they are going through with the plasticisation of our currency. So Joe Public either gave the whole thing his thumbs up, or the powers that be decided to ignore him and get on with it anyway.

Besides, anything new is inevitably controversial. There’ll always be some haters, especially in the UK. Less so elsewhere though.  I was in Mexico when polymer notes were introduced. I didn’t notice any great amount of objection. Perhaps because half the population aren’t rich enough to trade in notes. Another 49% were just pleased to have some money of any sort and weren’t about to question its merits.  The final 1% probably professed confusion about what exactly bank notes are and declared that they will continue to buy things the old fashioned way, with gold ingots.

I liked the polymer Mexican pesos. I thought they looked modern, felt tough, and I can confirm through experience that they do survive a spin or three in the washing machine. It’s the way forward. Are you listening Mr Obama, with your ridiculously highly counterfeited (and frankly very dull looking) dollar bills? I suspect he would face an altogether different set of issues in introducing plastic money though. The internet would provide a thousand conspiracy theories overnight, Alex Jones would declare it to be unconstitutional and part of a secret plot to take everyone’s money away from them, Pat Robertson would call it the Devil’s money and blame the next high school shooting on it whilst dear Sarah Palin would probably stage a protest at a war memorial, because ‘vets died for our paper money’. Pft.



9 thoughts on “Put It On Plastic

  1. You are most likely correct that the American public would exercise its Second Amendment rights to fight off any plans by an obviously George III-inspired plot to impose plastic money on the virtuous denizens of The Republic. The United States considered swapping out one dollar bills for a dollar coin just about the same time you Brits switched to metal. The American citizens wailed and refused to use the coin. The plan was dropped. Your kin mumbled, accepted the inevitable, and now have large lumps in your pockets — and save quite a bit in minting costs, I might add.

    Nope. No plastic money in The States. Except for the type prominently listing a bank’s name. Now, that is spot on.


    • A related story. When it’s my turn to buy a round, I proclaim that it has been a while since I last got the drinks and extract a crisp, genuine one pound note.

      This doesn’t really happen*, of course. It is, just as I said, a story. But I do have that note in my wallet. I have been told it must be worth some money now. I inform them that I know exactly what it is worth. It never ceases to amaze me that they are surprised with the answer…. precisely one pound.

      *whether it’s the telling of the story that doesn’t happen, or that I don’t actually buy the round…. I’ll leave that to your imagination.


  2. So with the era of plastic money upon us, will we soon talk of plastic profits vs paper profits? Plastic losses? Not worth the plastic it’s printed on? Plasticizing the walls with worthless banknotes?

    It’s not just a change of materials. No, it’ll have deeper repercussions on the entire language.

    Or will it be like dialing a number on a phone, when dials on phones were last seen in the 70’s?


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we use plastic more than paper anyway.


    • Dials were last seen on phones in the 70’s?! We still had public pay phones with dials well into the 80’s. I think it’s time dials made a comeback. Everything else has gone retro….

      I resent some little shops charging 50p if you want to pay with the plastic.


  3. All of our coins feature Queen Elizabeth on one side and our pink $ 5 note does too. I remember when I was a kid and the plastic notes first came out (1992) and it was discovered that by furiously rubbing the queen’s head you could make it vanish! although fade is probably more accurate – I just googled that and saw a link to this blog where someone has had a lot more fun refacing the queen on our fiver…http://bunchof5s.wordpress.com/

    Incidentally the first time I ever voted was in the republic referendum in 1999. I voted for the doomed republic model, turned out you guys are quite hard to get rid of. Hopefully we’ll get another chance soon! The nations of Latin America took almost 300 years after colonisation to gain their independence, we’re not close to that mark yet but it’s well and truly past the time to do it, I say… thankfully my convict blood takes longer to boil while we hold the ashes though I would have liked to have seen a bit more English fight!

    Cheers mate, merry christmas!


    • I’m glad you took the Aussie part of the post as intended! Mind you, you’ve been reading long enough to know I’m not too evil. Besides….the Ashes. He who laughs last….and you are definitely getting the last laugh for now. It’s been an absolutely shocking and inexplicable performance from England.

      As for Aussie Independence, I don’t have a really strong opinion. Primarily I guess, because Australia is de facto independent and has been for a long time. There’s a part of me that likes tradition, and providing the tradition isn’t hurting anyone, then let it be. There’s another part of me that suspects that were I an Aussie, I’d probably be pro-Republic.

      I’m sure it will happen one day. Once passed, there’ll be no going back. And one day you’ll get a president that will have you wishing Her Maj was back on your throne 🙂


  4. Well here in the Great Northwest, a backward place where people still raise cattle and chickens and own a horse, I have never heard of plastic money. As far as this paper and/or plastic money goes, I use a one dollar bill and two quarters to ride the bus, and I take cash with me to Idaho to buy my smokes, but otherwise I use my card. The card is plastic also of course. And unlike currency I can use it on Amazon to buy music and shirts and have them delivered to my door, thereby preserving my reclusive mountain ways where I only have to socialize with bears. Or dachshunds.


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