I suck when it comes to carrying cash, mainly out of fear of losing money. I can’t count how many times I’ve reached into my clothes dryer and pulled out jeans and a couple of dollar bills. But imagine if the U.S switched from the cotton paper used for bills to using plastic?
Many countries have already introduced polymer currency into their system. Polymer is a clear plastic film that can be printed on like paper. Recently the Bank of England announced that the Sir Winston Churchill £5 note will be made with plastic in 2016. Australia is the pioneer when it comes to polymer currency, the country has been using the notes since the 1980s. Fiji and Canada also gave up on paper in 2013.
Many people feel that polymer based currency will allow banks worldwide to slow the movement of faked currency by adopting high-tech security devices, such as holograms and see-through windows that contain hard-to-forge images. These tools would make counterfeiting nearly impossible.
Although the novelty behind polymer money is interesting, the currency does have its drawbacks. First of all, the obvious, is that you can’t fold plastic into a wallet. Unless the money is all conveniently sized like credit cards, it’ll be pretty hard to carry it in a wallet, or you back pocket.
“They have memory and can spring back from being flat,” said George Cubaj, editor of the Standard Catalog of World Paper Money.
Another issue countries like Nigeria have experienced is the heat factor. Nigeria started testing polymers in 2007, but realized the ink on the currency faded because of the year-round heat and sun. Also merchants started to reject the currency because it was blurry. These issues led to the country going back to paper currency.
Cubaj also said the U.S has no plans on ditching paper for plastic any time soon mainly because of the high costs replace the number of vending machines nationwide so that they would take the new polymer notes, he said. Also, US dollars are pretty much seen as the safest, most stable currency.