UK’s new £20 with added security will debut next February

The UK has unveiled the design for the new £20 bank note – the most likely to be forged – with new security features.

The polymer £20 note incorporates two windows and a two-colour foil, which the Bank of England says makes it very difficult to counterfeit, and will be available in February next year. A new £50 note will follow in 2021.

Other security features include a metallic hologram which changes between the word ‘Twenty’ and ‘Pounds’ when the note is tilted; ink for the number ‘20’ that shows up red and green under ultraviolet light; and a silver foil patch that contains a 3D image of the coronation crown.

The new £20 note features the artist JMW Turner, and joins new polymer £5 notes depicting Winston Churchill and £10 notes depicting Jane Austen. The new £50 will bear the likeness of Alan Turing.

“The new £20 will be our most secure note yet, featuring several innovative elements,” said Bank of England governor Mark Carney at the official launch today.

“For example, rather than having a single foil element – the Turner Contemporary in blue – there is an additional foil in a second colour: the Margate Lighthouse in gold. And there is a second transparent element in the bottom corner of the note, inspired by the windows of Tintern Abbey,” he added.

Those security features are made possible by printing the new £20 on polymer, rather than paper, continued Carney.

As with the new polymer £10, the new £20 will also include a tactile feature – a series of raised dots in the upper left-hand corner – to make it easier to identify by the visually impaired.

The £20 is the most common bank note in the UK with around 2bn in circulation, which is one reason it is a popular target for counterfeiters. According to Bank of England figures £20s accounted for 201,000 out of 228,000 fake notes seized in the first six months of 2019.

Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “The introduction of this new £20 note is a great step to cutting down on fraud which is a thorn in the side of small firms.”

He went on: “As the most common note in circulation, small firms will be pleased to see the money they are working with is going to become safer and more secure. This will mean that small businesses can spend time and money on other issues away from fraud.”

The new £20 note will be made of polymer supplied by De La Rue, which says it will be "cleaner to handle and more resistant to dirt, as well as last longer and be recyclable into items such as plant pots and storage boxes at the end of its life."

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