First plastic banknotes issued by Clydesdale Bank

Clydesdale Bank has entered the UK’s first plastic banknotes into circulation.

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Two million of the new £5 notes have been issued, which the bank says are more durable and secure than the country’s existing paper money.

These new limited edition notes, which are smaller than existing notes of this denomination, have been launched to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Forth Bridge. Alongside an image of the structure, they also feature a portrait of prominent Scottish engineer Sir William Arrol, who was responsible for its construction.

The notes have been designed by the world’s largest commercial banknote printer, De La Rue plc, and are the first in Europe to be manufactured on its Safeguard® polymer substrate.

They also mark the first time the Spark® Orbital™ security feature has been used on banknotes in the UK. This appears as ink in the shape of Scotland over a transparent window in the note, and changes colour as it is moved and tilted.

Clydesdale Bank formally launched the notes with help from pupils of the Bearsden Academy branch of Young Engineers and Science Clubs Scotland. Alongside former television meteorologist Heather Reid, they conducted a number of rigorous tests on the notes, including measuring at what point the note tears and a rubbing test which replications the conditions of a note in circulation. The results showed that the new polymer £5 notes are more durable than the country’s existing paper money.

Debbie Crosbie, Acting CEO of Clydesdale Bank, said: “We take our responsibility as an issuer of banknotes seriously and are extremely proud to once again be leading the way in innovation.

“Our new polymer notes are more durable and secure, which will deliver a positive impact for the public and businesses. We have achieved that while also creating a striking and beautiful design which celebrates an iconic Scottish landmark.

“Being able to involve the next generation of Scottish engineers with the launch has been particularly pleasing. Hopefully some of the children present will go on to play their part in developing future engineering and scientific innovations.”

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