New £20 note hits the streetsIt's the same size but a brighter purple colour

13 March 2007

 

The UK's most common banknote was today set for a relaunch as newly-designed £20 notes hit the streets for the first time since 1999.

The Bank of England's new note will bear the image of 18th century economist Adam Smith, renowned for his Wealth of Nations analysis on free markets. He is the first Scot to feature on a banknote.

Customers at the cash machine will find the new £20 in a brighter purple colour to make it more recognisable, although it will be the same size as its predecessor.

The new note will also feature a larger silver hologram and metallic thread recognition strip to combat fraudsters as well as a new security colour tag which shows up under ultra-violet light.

Security measures

Around 350,000 forged £20 notes were discovered last year.

The Bank of England's chief cashier Andrew Bailey said: 'We do not have a serious counterfeiting problem in this country, but because it is the most common note it is the one that has proved most attractive to counterfeiters.'

There are 1.3 billion £20 notes currently in circulation designed with a portrait of composer Sir Edward Elgar, which will gradually be phased out over the next two years.

According to UK payments association APACS, the £20 note accounted for 66 per cent of all notes dispensed by British cash machines in the last quarter of 2006.

Cash machines

Spokeswoman Sandra Quinn said: 'Most of us are likely to see one of these new £20 notes at a cash machine as it's where many of these new notes will first be dispensed.

'We are all still carrying around quite a bit of cash because, despite our continuing love affair with our cards, cash remains first choice for small value payments such as for a pint of milk or our morning paper.'

The £10 note is the second commonest note, with 550 million in circulation, and carries the picture of scientist Charles Darwin, famous for his theory of natural selection.

The £5 note was the last note to be relaunched in May 2002, featuring a picture of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

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