Paper Money

UK, US take different approaches in bank note design

Bank of England officials released a design concept for the next £50 note on the same they announced that Alan Turing would appear on the note. That approach is in stark contrast with how designs are being handled for the next $20 Federal Reserve note.

Original image courtesy of Bank of England.

The announcement that the new Bank of England £50 note depicting Alan Turing will debut in late 2021 after being announced only at the end of 2018 offers a stark contrast to the latest news about the future of United States paper currency revisions.

A CNBC report on July 15, the same day as the news about the new English note broke, said that despite reports to the contrary, the Harriet Tubman $20 bill could never have been ready for introduction in 2020. CNBC picked up a Washington Post interview with former Bureau of Engraving and Printing director Larry Felix, who said that the 2020 release date was “not grounded in reality. The U.S. had not at the time acquired the security features to redesign and protect the notes.” The note is now projected for 2028.

Another comment by Felix draws a contrast between the U.S. approach and the British one, and shows two responses to the same problem. He and other unnamed officials told the Post “that the Treasury could not have released a ‘concept’ design in 2020, as [Obama Treasury Secretary Jacob] Lew promised, because it would have given counterfeiters a decade to replicate the bill.” 

The design concept note revealed by the Bank of England on July 15 is conspicuous for its lack of any security features. These were deliberately excluded and will only be revealed in 2021 when the £50 note is ready for the public. 

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