British consumers have just one week left to spend the last £11 billion ($12.4 billion) of paper banknotes that remain in circulation before the cash ceases to become legal tender.
As of Sept. 30, almost £6 billion of old £50 notes and more than £5 billion of the £20 ones will no longer be accepted by UK businesses, the Bank of England said Friday. That’s a total of more than 360 million notes.
People can exchange the paper for new currency made of a plastic-like polymer by appearing in person at the BOE’s London headquarters in Threadneedle Street, sending them through the post or at certain Post Offices.
Many commercial banks will also allow them to be deposited into accounts.
In the last few days, a line of people for the cash exchange desks at the BOE has already been extending out onto the street.
The end of the £20 and £50 paper notes will complete the UK transition to new polymer banknotes.
All of the polymer versions of the currency carrying a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II can still be used as normal, the BOE said.
Polymer banknotes are banknotes made from a synthetic ρolymer such as biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP).
Such notes incorporate many security features not available in paρer banknotes, including the use of metameric inks.
Pοlymer banknotes last significantly longer than paper notes, causing a decrease in environmental impact and a reduced cost of production and replacement.