Retailers urged to prepare for the new £20 note

A sample of the new twenty pound note is seen during the launch event for the new note design at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, Britain, October 10, 2019. Photo: Leon Neal via REUTERS

Bank of England has urged businesses to prepare for handling the new £20 note it unveiled on 10 October.

Featuring British painter J.M.W. Turner, the note will be issued on 20 February 2020. Famed for his depictions of coastal landscapes, Turner replaces 18th Century economist Adam Smith as the current face of the £20 note.

The polymer note incorporates two see-through windows and a two colour foil for the first time, making it the most secure of the notes.

“That makes it very hard to counterfeit and demonstrates our commitment to providing cash that can be used with confidence,” said Sarah John, the Bank’s Chief Cashier whose signature is appearing on Bank of England notes for the first time.

The Bank urged businesses to plan training for staff that handle notes. Staff will need to be able to check both paper and polymer £20 notes while they co-circulate.

The paper notes will be gradually withdrawn as they are banked. Notice will be given six months’ ahead of legal tender status of the paper £20 being withdrawn.

Retailers may need to engage with banknote machine suppliers to ensure any note accepting or dispensing machines – such as self-service checkouts, banknote authenticators and note counters – will be updated.

“Being our most common note, the transition to the new £20 is the most significant, but I am confident that retailers and businesses will adapt to the change,” John added.

Free training materials for retailers are available here to order or download.

A new £50 note with 20th Century computer scientist Alan Turing will be launched in 2021.