£20 and £50 paper notes to expire

Businesses, including community pharmacies, that handle cash have been urged to prepare for the removal of £20 and £50 paper banknotes from circulation. The paper notes of both denominations will no longer be legal tender from Friday 30 September.

Cash handling experts Volumatic reminded businesses to make sure that they deposit any paper notes at banks by this date, and ensure they would not be accepting any further paper notes from customers from 1 October onwards.

“While businesses continue to face extra demands during the current cost-of living crisis, we’ve already seen evidence of an uplift in cash usage by consumers, who are now using cash more to help them budget more effectively,” Mike Severs, Sales and Marketing Director at Volumatic, said.

“With more consumers looking to spend their old paper notes before the end-of-September deadline, it’s really important to remember to deposit any paper notes you either already have within your business or receive throughout this month to your bank before the end of September.”

If retailers are unable to deposit paper notes at the bank, there is also the option of a postal exchange with the Bank of England or notes can be exchanged at selected Post Office branches.

Like the £5 and £10 notes before them, the paper £20 and £50 notes are being replaced by the new polymer banknotes, which were first issued in February 2020 and June 2021, respectively. And while these £20 and £50 polymer notes have replaced the majority of paper banknotes over the past couple of years, the Bank of England has estimated that there are still more than 14 billion paper £20 and £50 notes still in circulation.

The new notes are more durable, as they are made of plastic rather than paper, meaning fewer new notes will need to be issued over time. The notes are more state-of-the-art and therefore more secure, meaning they are far more difficult to forge.

Forged banknotes have caused headaches for retailers for many years, but since the £5 and £10 polymer notes were introduced in 2016-17, followed by the £20 and £50 notes more recently, completing the set, the UK has already seen a sharp decline in the number of counterfeit notes in circulation, Volumatic noted.

The Bank of England’s Banknote Statistics Data said that in 2021, typically less than 1 in every 40,000 banknotes were counterfeit in the UK, but that still equates to a face value of £2.7 million.

Volumatic said businesses can invest in its CounterCache intelligent (CCi) solution to help eliminate forgeries.

Currently used by businesses including Tesco, Morrisons, Wilko and the Co-op Food Group, CCi is an all-in-one unit that counts, detects 100% of forgeries and securely stores your cash, all at POS.

Notes cannot be touched or mislaid again until they reach the bank and the CCi also offers in-depth reporting for full visibility, and it can be integrated with any EPOS system or cash reconciliation software platform.

If a business has the need to count much larger volumes of cash, Volumatic’s Friction Note Counters can count banknotes quickly and accurately whilst at the same time detect all known forgeries.

The company added that both the CCi and its various friction note counter devices have passed the Bank of England’s framework test for banknote machines and forgery detectors, which means they will reject all known forgeries in circulation.

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