Material world: the enduring appeal of paper banknotes

Central banks have used space-age polymers to make banknotes for decades. So why does paper remain predominant in banknote production?

For much of the late 20th century, plastic carried the aura of the modern, the state of the art. During the 1960s, fashion designers aiming for a futuristic look often used plastic as a material.

In currency, plastic, too, represents the cutting edge. The first plastic banknotes entered circulation in the 1980s. In that sense, they are cousins of that other major plastic component of modern payments, the credit card. Indeed, the hologram – now a common security feature on notes – came from the

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