Something to Note: the new polymer £50

Following the introduction of the £5, £10 and £20 polymer notes, the Bank of England has unveiled the design of the new £50 polymer banknote. Featuring the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing the new note will be issued on 23 June 2021.

New £50 note

Alan Turing is perhaps best known for his codebreaking work during the Second World War. In recognition of this, the Bank of England have collaborated with GCHQ on the intelligence and cyber agency’s toughest puzzle ever – based on the Turing £50 bank note design. GCHQ’s Turing Challenge, a set of 12 puzzles has been put together by intelligence staff at GCHQ, where problem solving and a diverse mix of minds are at the heart of its work to help protect the UK from increasingly complex threats. You can try and solve them by visiting – www.gchq.gov.uk/information/turing-challenge

Although famous for his work on codebreaking and computing, Alan Turing is less well known for his discoveries in the field of biology. A pioneer of morphogenesis, where he used mathematics to understand how natural patterns like the spiral formation of the seeds in a sunflower head, and the arrangement of spots on a leopard can form.

The polymer £50 note contains advanced security features, completing the most secure set of Bank of England banknotes yet. The note, like the polymer £20, incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, making it very difficult to counterfeit. There is also a hologram image which changes between the words ‘Fifty’ and ‘Pounds’ when tilting the note from side to side.

What should you do in advance of the new £50 coming out?

In preparation for the new £50, cash-handling businesses should take the following simple steps:

  • Speak to your suppliers to check that your banknote machines (eg: self-service checkouts, point-of-sale banknote authenticators, back office banknote authenticators/note counters) are updated and are ready for the new £50.
  • Make sure that all of your staff who handle cash are aware and know what to expect on 23 June 2021. Go to new50.co.uk for free training and educational materials.

What should you do about the paper £50 note?

Even after the new polymer £50 note has been issued, you should continue to accept the paper £50 note. The public can still use paper £50 notes as usual, spending them or depositing into bank accounts. The Bank of England will give at least six months’ notice ahead of legal tender status of the paper £50 being withdrawn.

What about the paper £20 note?

You can also continue to use paper £20 notes as usual. The Bank of England haven’t yet said when the legal tender status of the paper £20 note will be withdrawn, however, at least six months’ notice will be given ahead of this.

You can sign up for all the latest advice and news on banknotes on www.bankofengland.co.uk/subscribe-to-emails

Become a member of the Banknote Checking Scheme

Cash is an important payment option used by many people. A very small proportion of banknotes in circulation are counterfeit, typically less than one counterfeit in every 10,000 genuine notes. While members of the public are unlikely be affected, retailers and businesses are on the front line and carry the cost of any fake notes which they accept as payment. You can help protect your business by becoming a member of the Banknote Checking Scheme, and it’s entirely free. The scheme will help your business to:

  • Reduce the financial loss and reputational risks caused by counterfeit notes.
  • Build a relationship with the Bank of England (they will send you all the latest information and learn from your experiences).
  • Support society by helping to prevent the spread of counterfeits and the crime associated with them.

For more information on the Banknote Checking Scheme and how to join, please visit www.bankofengland.co.uk/banknotes/retailers-and-businesses