Banknotes for Northern Ireland were issued by various banks since 1929. Similar notes were also issued by banks in Scotland. These currency notes were considered legal in the UK as they were backed by deposits in the Bank of England. However, they were not officially legal tender.
On 12th February, this old system was demolished by one of the four Irish banknote issuers - First Trust Bank, with the announcement that the bank would stop producing its own notes. The bank officials also stated that the notes would be completely demonetized on 30th June 2022. Notes from Bank of England would be dispensed from First Trust Bank’s ATMs.
Almost 11 per cent of circulating notes in Northern Ireland are produced by First Trust Bank. These notes are in varying denominations such as £100 (1998), £10, £20, and £50. The obverse side of these note feature people from Northern Ireland. The £10 note features a middle-aged man, the £20 note depicts an older woman, the £50 note shows an old man while the £100 note features two old men. The reverse side depicts images related to the Battle of Spanish Armada between England and Spain. 24 ships were attacked off the Irish coast in 1588 during this battle.
First Trust Bank is one of the Allied Irish Banks. People will be allowed to exchange old notes at post offices till 30th June 2024. The decision has been taken due to the increasing popularity of digital payment methods and mobile technology. Out of the 1.3 million retail customers of Allied Irish Banks, almost 65 per cent were digitally active by 2018.
Some reports also suggest that First Trust is yet to receive £300 million back from the Bank of England deposits, which could be another reason why this step has been taken. Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank (formerly Northern Bank), and Ulster Bank will continue to issue notes and will soon be introducing polymer notes.
Image Courtesy: First Trust Bank