First Trust Bank, one of four main banks in Northern Ireland, will become the first Northern Ireland-based bank to end the practice of printing its own-denomination banknotes. The bank revealed it will scrap its own banknotes next year and switch to dispensing Bank of England notes from its ATM network.
Although the UK has a vast variety of different notes in circulation, The Bank of England is the only bank to issue notes for England and Wales, while there are seven different banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland that currently produce their own notes.
The decision is thought to be an economic issue and means that all existing First Trust banknotes will not be able to be used for payments from midnight on 30th June 2022. They can however be exchanged for Bank of England banknotes, or other sterling banknotes of equivalent value at Post Offices up until 30th June 2024.
Why do Scotland and Northern Ireland issue their own banknotes?
The UK has a vast variety of different notes in circulation and although those of us living in England and Wales don’t see many, there are three different banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland that currently produce their own notes.
In fact the tradition of printing banknotes was considered the norm centuries ago as most of the UK’s banks produced their own banknotes. However over time they weren’t all doing it responsibly and were not able to back the notes up with actual assets. The law changed in the 1840’s in England and Wales so all production of banknotes was moved to The Bank of England bar Scotland who argued for an exception as they were not having the same issues. The Bank Notes Act of 1928 allowed banks in Northern Ireland to produce their own notes.
For people living in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the banknotes are part of the furniture and a part of their cultural identity that usually feature local landmarks and historical figures. These issuing banks have also considered the notes as part of their marketing as customers are seeing the name of their banks in their hands as they spend cash.
Can you spend Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes in England?
Yes. The notes are legal currency and backed with physical assets with the Bank of England so can technically be accepted anywhere in the UK. However, the problems come as shops are not always overly familiar with all the different types of notes and may not be sure on how to check them for counterfeiting so don’t like to accept them.
Is this the beginning of the end for Northern Irish and Scottish banknotes?
The decision is scrap the printing of banknotes at First Trust Bank is thought to be an economic issue and comes as other Northern Ireland banks prepare for the change over to modern Polymer notes in the very near future. The update is needed in order to produce counterfeit resilient notes to protect against forgery and ensure the security of circulating notes. But this costly change could be too much for First Trust handle.
There are also a lot fewer of these notes changing hands and with the increasing use of digital payment methods and mobile technology, it could be the reasoning behind the decision to scrap the notes.
The other three Northern Irish banks are currently in various stages of issuing their own polymer £5, £10 and £20 notes and it is clear that Scotland are completely committed to keeping their own notes as Clydesdale Bank was the first bank in the UK to issue a Polymer note back in 2015.
*** 2020 UPDATE ***
Three years since the old round pound coins were demonetised and replaced by the 12 sided £1, it’s been revealed that 122 million of these old coins still have not been returned to The Royal Mint.
Roughly 1.58 billion have found their way back to the Mint, but in addition to this, there have been at least 1.5 billion counterfeit round pounds handed in.
The Royal Mint said these fakes “could not be readily distinguished from the genuine coin, which is why a new coin was introduced”.
But, of the 122 million genuine round pounds still in circulation, which ones should you be looking out for?
In 2017, the Round £1 coins were demonetised and replaced by the new 12 sided coins we see today. The public were encouraged to spend or return their coins to the banks, but did you know that not all of these coins made it back to The Royal Mint?
Whilst these old coins are no longer legal tender, they can still be returned to the bank and deposited into you account, however there’s a few coins you definitely shouldn’t be cashing in if you’re lucky enough to find one (tip: try looking down the back of the sofa, in coat pockets or old supermarket bags for those lost and forgotten coins!).
Here are the ones to look out for:
Scotland: Edinburgh City
The Edinburgh City £1 coin was released in 2011 with a mintage of just 935,000, making it the lowest Round Pound by 680,000!
Taking this into account, there’s no real surprise that this coin sits top of our Scarcity Index with a perfect score of 100.
Such is the rarity, only 17% of Change Checker users list having this coin in their collection.
This coin currently sells for between £7-£12.
Wales: Cardiff City
Another of the capital cities series, the Cardiff City £1 coin is definitely one to keep.
This coin depicts the circular Coat of Arms of Cardiff as the principal focus to represent Wales.
This coin is worth between £3-£5.
England: London City
The 3rd coin from the capital cities series that you should hold on to is the London City £1 coin. Interestingly, the Belfast City coin does not make our list.
Released in 2010, this coin has a mintage of 2,635,000, much higher than Edinburgh and Cardiff but low in comparison to other £1 coins.
London City scores an impressive 77/100 in our Scarcity Index.
This coin can sell for between £3-£6.
Scotland: Thistle and Bluebell
The Thistle and Bluebell £1 coin was released in 2014 as part of the floral emblems series.
This coin features a thistle alongside a bluebell to represent Scotland.
This is worth between £2-£5.
UK: Crowned Shield
The UK Crowned Shield £1 coin was released way back in 1988, only 5 years after the Round £1 came into circulation.
Although it has a relatively low mintage figure of 7,118,825, this coin makes the list due to some interesting Change Checker App data.
It scores a 51 in our Scarcity Index but less than 1/4 of Change Checker users list having this coin in their collection and swap requests outnumber swap listings by 6 to 1!
This coin will sell for between £3-£7.50.
It’s worth noting that our valuations are based on coins that have recently sold on auction sites. The value of a coin depends on a number of factors including the coin’s condition.
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Over the last couple of months we’ve been asking Change Checkers to vote for their favourite UK, Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh and English £1 coin designs.
Now this is the last poll left to vote in until we find out which £1 coin is Britain’s all-time favourite design.
Please vote for your favourite £1 coin from the finalists in the below poll: