Finance ยท 11 October 2017

Bank of England launches banknote checking scheme for counterfeits

British pound banknotes
Around 350,000 fake notes were removed from circulation in 2016
The Bank of England has launched a new scheme to promote banknote checking at the point of sale at cash-handling businesses, via targeted staff training.

Launched on 10 October, the aim of the banknote checking scheme is to significantly reduce the proportion of counterfeit banknotes being accepted, and to reduce the impact of subsequent losses for businesses.

Any retailer or shop owner can sign up as a supporter of the banknote checking scheme, and each supporting business owner will gain access to advice and a range of online training material to encourage banknote checking in their firm.

Training material will include computer-based sessions, webinars, targeted online advice, leaflets, posters and regular updates on issues related to banknotes and relevant for cash-handling businesses.

In a statement, chief cashier at the Bank of England, Victoria Cleland, said: ?Retailers and other businesses are the front line of defence against counterfeiting.

?Counterfeit banknotes are only produced because criminals they will find somewhere to spend them and can do so without consequence. We are introducing the banknote checking scheme to make this even more difficult.?

Rather than applying the same common framework to all UK businesses, the Bank of England will encourage owners to tailor their banknote checking processes to the specific needs of their business.

Despite that request, the Bank of England has issued a set of six guiding principles for all businesses that sign up for the scheme, including two principles for employees and four rules for the business overall.

The banknote checking scheme is a collaboration between the Bank of England and seven of its ?strategic partners?: The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), British Retail Consortium (BRC), Crimestoppers, National Crime Agency (NCA), National Pubwatch, Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) and Retailers Against Crime.

Last year, the Bank of England removed around 350,000 counterfeit banknotes from circulation, or around 0.1 per cent of the number currently used in the UK, according to figures from the New Scientist.

Over the last ten years, the ?20 note has been the most commonly faked, followed by the ?10 note, the ?50 note and finally the ?5 note.

The recent introduction of polymer banknotes ? which are much harder to fake than traditional paper-based notes ? by the Bank of England, can be viewed as the most significant attempt to address the UK?s money counterfeiting problem in recent times.

In early 2017, the Bank of England began circulating the new polymer ?5 note, with the new polymer ?10 introduced on 14 September. A new polymer ?20 is due to enter circulation in 2020.

Banknote checking scheme: Six guiding principles

Your employees:

  • Must be trained to check banknotes at the point of sale
  • Must know what to do with a counterfeit note when they see one
Your business:

  • Must share information with the Bank of England
  • Will promote the scheme
  • Must support police activities to prevent counterfeiting
  • Will appoint an individual to be the ?point of contact? for the scheme.
Read more:?The cash struggles business owners have with new notes and coins

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.