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Winston Churchill on a £5 plastic note

By 2016, the UK will be switching its £5 and £10 bills to polymer bank notes as they're more durable, harder to forge, and cheaper in the long run.

For over 300 years the Bank of England has been printing bank notes, and despite the growth of credit and debit cards and online transactions, there's more cash in circulation than ever before.

The challenge is how to keep ahead of the counterfeiters, and this has prompted the Bank of England to follow recent technology in converting some of its notes.

"The key part of a bank note is 'I promise to pay' and people need to believe the bank will always promise to pay, but they also need to believe the notes they hold are genuine notes and not counterfeited notes," explained Victoria Cleland, chief cashier of the Bank of England, to CNN's Nina Dos Santos in an interview.

The UK will be one of just a handful of currencies produced this way. Already, Australia and Canada have been moving away from paper to polymer in order to crack the counterfeiters and ensure the notes last longer.

A key security feature of the polymer note is a window you can look through. Another feature of the plastic note is that it's quite thin and flexible, and still includes the raised print which people seem to prefer, said Cleland.

"One of the advantages of polymer notes is that they will hold their shape a lot more and they're more durable," Cleland explained to Dos Santos, showing CNN the slick new, washing-machine proof notes being printed.

While the process of converting traditional notes to a plastic form will be an expensive endeavor, the Bank believes a polymer note will last at least two and a half times longer than paper.

The £5 note will get the first facelift in 2016, followed by the £10 note. Winston Churchill will become the face on the £5 note, while Jane Austen will grace the £10 note.

With all the talk of a cashless society, it seems that cash is here to stay, albeit in its new plastic format.

Source: cnn.com