IHMA heralds introduction of security-centric polymer £5 note by Bank of England

The new polymer £5 note soon to be issued by the Bank of England

The new polymer £5 note soon to be issued by the Bank of England

The advent of the new plastic £5 banknote heralds “an exciting opportunity” that showcases leading-edge developments in security devices for currency applications. That’s the considered view of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association (IHMA), the dedicated trade body for the global hologram industry.

Introduced by the Bank of England in September following a period of public consultation, the new £5 note will be manufactured from a hard-wearing and durable polymer. The IHMA is also looking ahead to the new £10 and £20 notes that will follow as the old cotton fibre and linen rag banknotes are removed from circulation and destroyed.

The polymer editions are made from a thin, transparent and flexible film fashioned from polypropylene that’s coated with a lacquer layer that enables them to carry the printed design features of the banknote. This will allow the inclusion of windows or clear portions in the design. These are used to provide enhanced protection and feature holograms for verification and anti-counterfeiting purposes.

Other countries – including Canada, New Zealand, Romania and Vietnam – have been using polymer banknotes featuring holograms for years. As the UK now adopts banknotes featuring the same technology, the move has to be seen as another example of how holography continues to evolve as the leading security feature for notes.

Holograms have featured successfully on banknotes since 1987, and have progressed since then from being simple patches to complex stripes as integral design and print features on notes. Today, the annual global volume of banknotes produced is in excess of 125 billion*, so the reward for hologram developers capable of providing the technology to overcome the technical challenges is (potentially, at least) highly lucrative.

Dr Mark Deakes, general secretary of the IHMA, believes that the new £5 note opens an exciting chapter for security holograms. “Holography is an effective weapon in the battle to thwart banknote counterfeiters,” urged Deakes, “continually evolving as an effective first line of defence. The new £5 note is a great example of this evolution, and illustrates some of the best and most technically innovative holograms on banknotes which combine with other features to deliver value added solutions. Like their paper counterparts, polymer substrates are now benefiting from this type of technology. The Bank of England is among those leading the way with banknotes that combine improved durability with the very best in modern hologram technology.”

Level One security feature

The success of holograms for both polymer and paper banknotes has been down to their role as a Level One security feature that’s instantly recognisable. The technology remains to the fore as part of an array of overt features, making it easy not only for members of the general public, but also cashiers and those operating cash tills in stores to recognise whether or not a banknote is bona fide.

Increasing adoption of holography on banknotes reinforces the hologram’s position as a pre-eminent security feature in the global anti-counterfeiting battle. The use of sophisticated anti-counterfeiting features means that the banknotes are more secure because they include a larger area for holograms to be featured. For its part, New Zealand was among the countries that reported a fall in counterfeiting after it introduced new hologram banknotes.

The artwork on the new £5 bank note also includes:

*Churchill’s declaration: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” (which came in a speech at the House of Commons on 13 May 1940)

*A view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank in gold foil on the front of the note and silver on the back

*The Great Clock showing three o’clock (the approximate time of the Commons speech by Churchill)

*A background image of the Nobel Prize for literature (which Churchill was awarded in 1953)

There are more than 329 million £5 notes in circulation at the present time, so it will take a year for the Churchill note to fully replace the current one featuring the social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

The IHMA – www.ihma.org – is made up of 100 of the world’s leading hologram companies. IHMA members are the leading producers and converters of holograms for banknote security, anti-counterfeiting, brand protection, packaging, graphics and other commercial applications around the world. Member companies actively co-operate to maintain the highest professional, security and quality standards at all times.

* The Holo-pack·Holo-print Industry Study

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts