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30th Sep 2021

There is about £9 billion of cash in circulation in UK which is set to become useless

Danny Jones

£9 million in cash could go to waste next year

Old cash goes out of circulation next year

It is estimated that around £9 billion worth of £20 notes will be obsolete by this time next year, as the government has announced it will withdraw the legal tender status of paper banknotes.

The new polymer notes came into the currency back in February of 2020 and while any old cash you might have had has still been accepted since then, it is being officially phased out on September 30 2022.

The estimation doesn’t stop there either: you might not remember the last time you saw one but there is thought to be as much as £15 billion worth of paper £50 notes still in circulation too.

In the Covid era, cash has felt like a thing of the past at times, with contactless payments and Apple Pay becoming pretty much the standard for many people these days. However, cash is just as essential as it has always has been, especially among older generations.

That being said, here’s a friendly reminder to let whoever you know with old notes in their wallet or hordes all their millions under their bed to relent and head to the bank. This time next year, they won’t be accepted in shops, pubs or anywhere for that matter, other than the bank. You will still be able to deposit them into a bank account and even exchange banknotes by post.

The Bank of England’s chief cashier, Sarah John, explained that: “In recent years we have been changing our banknotes from paper to polymer because this makes them more difficult to counterfeit, and means they are more durable.”

She went on to say: “The polymer £20 featuring the artist J.M.W. Turner, and the polymer £50 featuring the scientist Alan Turing are now in wide circulation” and that the process of withdrawing their paper predecessors is already well underway, urging the public that “they have one year from today to spend their paper banknotes”.

Not only are the newer notes safer all-around but they also come with extra features: they have braille aspects that allow for the blind and partially sighted to differentiate between them and did you know that they also come with a cool ‘living artwork’ feature? Us neither. Here’s how to access it:

  1. Open the Snapchat app and point the camera at the Snapcode, or click the image above

  2. Press and hold on the Snapcode to unlock the AR Lens

  3. Once unlocked, hover over the note or an image of the new £20

  4. Watch as it transforms the note into a live piece of artwork

  5. Take a snap and share it

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