back to article Anyone still using cash? British £50 banknote honouring Alan Turing arrives

The UK's new £50 note has entered circulation on the 109th anniversary of the birth of its subject, the mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing. Initially announced two years ago, and unveiled back in March, the note is due to become available in bank branches and ATMs over the coming days. Its arrival completes the …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Coat

    That looks cool

    Can somebody send me one? Maybe 2 or 3? To, um, put on the wall?

    Seriously though, I wish the US would switch to plastic. Paper sucks for money.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: That looks cool

      "Can somebody send me one? Maybe 2 or 3? To, um, put on the wall?"

      Certainly, how many would sir like? With two you can show both sides when framed. Shall we say, US$200 each*, plus secure postage?

      *Terms and conditions apply: Cash in advance, product may be delayed or lost in post at buyer's risk, and may appear different than advertised, no refunds. ;o)

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: That looks cool

      paper is better, polymer UK notes are too slippy, annoyingly work their way out of a wallet, pocket to get lost. Higher friction paper notes stay put.

      I still use notes, only way to ensure tip goes to staff in restaurant's etc - no way do I trust the concept of adding a tip on a card payment & the staff get their share.

      Also shop in plenty of places that don't do cards (e.g. some "proper" pubs that don't serve meals just bar snacks such as nuts, crisp, pickled eggs & so all just cash)

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: That looks cool

        @tiggity

        "I still use notes"

        Me too. It feels very different handing over notes and getting back coins or smaller notes than giving a piece of plastic which gets returned to you.

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: That looks cool

          "It feels very different handing over notes and getting back coins"

          "different" = annoying, in this case (in my opinion) ;-)

          I used to have a personal "rule" of never paying by card for anything less than £10, but, with public health recommendations during the Covid pandemic, and the rapidly increasing use of contactless payments by even small retailers over the past couple of years, I've barely used cash at all over the past year.

          Yes, bank notes are sort of cute, but British coins are still mostly quite bulky (arguably not helped by there being quite valuable £1 and £2 coins, that you are likely to get in change) and getting any sort of change, especially over more than 2 or 3 transactions, means that coins start taking up an awkward amount of space in your wallet (and, even worse, damaging or wearing out the wallet).

          I used to think that wallets with no coin pockets were a very frustrating design, clearly designed for countries where the value cut-off between coins and notes (or the relative value of the main currency unit itself) was such that coins given in change were generally of a sufficiently trivial value to be able to be left as tips or put in charity boxes, but meaning that this style of wallet is useless if you live in a country with a more valuable currency or larger value coins. But now that making card transactions for even small payments is normalised, I think I will continue to do so: yes, the merchants have to pay (fairly) small debit card fees, but they also have to pay bank fees for handling cash at the end of the day, so I can see cash continuing to become less popular (not that we should do away with it, however).

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: That looks cool

            @Dave559

            ""different" = annoying, in this case (in my opinion) ;-)"

            I believe it. Apparently it has been shown that when you hand over money it activates the pain centres of the brain while plastic doesnt have the same effect.

            I remember when it was insane to consider using a card for small purchases but its been a fantastic boom for making people spend more without thinking about it.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: That looks cool

        Paper also gets dirty, destroyed by washing machines, suffers rips etc. Nothing is perfect. Personally I like having crumpled up notes in my pocket but I'm not put out by plastic notes either.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: That looks cool

      I've been thinking I should get one to frame. In fact I think this is a subtle trick by the UK treasury to bolster up its finances as I doubt that anyone will use them as money. I'm in the US as well so the first place I'd go for these notes would be my bank.

      I've used plastic money, it works but it doesn't feel 'right'. But then I'm not sure we need the stuff that much -- I've spent less than $100 cash since the start of the pandemic and most of that was getting my hair cut (my barber's old school, only takes cash).

  2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Nice that at last the previously 'unsung' heroes and heroines of UK history are being celebrated on the nation's banknotes.

    I think he may be the first convicted criminal and suicide to appear on a UK banknote too. A tragedy he died when he had so much more to contribute and discover.

  3. beep54
    Unhappy

    Much too little and far too late.

  4. plunet

    "note is due to become available in bank branches and ATMs over the coming days"

    ATMs dispensing £50 notes? They must be in a parallel universe. Maybe in the lobby of Coutts & Co, and other wealth management instutitions.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Got me thinking, trying to recall the last time I handled any cash. I can't remember.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        Trolleys and car parks

        The only times I've handled cash recently are trolley release from Aldi, and car parks in the Lakes and by the sea side (and there were probably card options there)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trolleys and car parks

          Not even then. I have several tokens that are the same size as a £1, so I use those instead

      2. Chloe Cresswell

        For me, Monday. Cards machines were out of action at my local butchers, so they were cash only. One internet fault and no bacon sandwiches...

        1. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Bacon Butties.

          1. mark4155
            Coat

            You tell him lad!

            Bacon sandwiches? Whatever next? It's a butty were I come from. Got to go our kid, the whippets and ferrets need their exercise. "Mavis open the pigeon loft!"

      3. Jan 0 Silver badge

        Where I live, the chippies are holding out against electronic transfers. Are they all laundering money, or is it simply tax evasion?

        1. Anomalous Cowturd
          Flame

          Drug dealers.

          My man only accepts cash.

          Everything else gets paid by beep.

          I really dislike these plastic notes. Too slippery when they're all flat, and hard to stack neatly when a previous owner has folded them in half.

          1. logicalextreme Silver badge

            Re: Drug dealers.

            Also, should one ever need to crush small salt crystals into a fine dust, pressing them between a thin layer of material and a much harder surface using a flat, rigid edge such as the edge of a bankcard is an effective method in a pinch. The polymer notes work wonders as the thin layer, especially compared to the old paper ones. Bon appétit.

            Though yes, the slipperiness is an annoyance and I hadn't considered the stacking issue. The first time I had a few of them at once and pulled them out of my pocket only to have all but one go sailing out of my hand I immediately gave thanks that I no longer work in retail. As always though the new notes are still highly enjoyable works of art if you sit and look at them for a while, especially if you get a magnifying glass and a UV torch in on the action!

            In my drinking days I continued to use cash so I could tip the bar staff, and I continue to use cash for the odd thing to make sure I've got sufficient coinage for tipping restaurants and delivery drivers and helping out homeless people or people that have been knocked back a bit. Mostly beeps and clicky-clicky for everything else, and of late I've been considering whether using a mobile payments app is as terrible an idea as my gut initially told me it was.

      4. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re:last time I handled any cash

        For me it was last Friday. Bottle shop EFTPOS fell over. Had to find an ATM. AND read the instructions to figure out how to put the card in!

        I now have $70.50 in my wallet and it's likely to stay there for some time.

      5. sabroni Silver badge

        trying to recall the last time I handled any cash. I can't remember.

        Ask the government, I'm sure there's a suspicious break in your audit trail.

      6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        It was yesterday for me. It will also be later today as well when I amble along to the local chippy for £1 worth of chips

        1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Cash

          Yesterday for me as well.

          Had to pay the chimney sweep for the annual cleaning.

          Tomorrow when I pay the handyman who does garden chores.

          There are a lot of very god reasons to use cash, not least that the card operators take a cut. Using cash means that the small retailers I use actually get to keep all of it (apart from the VAT I had to pay).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cash

            "Using cash means that the small retailers I use actually get to keep all of it"

            ...apart from the bank charges that they have to pay for handling cash (or cheques), so it probably roughly balances out with card fees

            ...and, in some cases, the taxes that some cash-in-hand traders are avoiding evading paying, by neglecting to put a few jobs through the books, putting an unfair tax burden on the rest of us that we have to pay for their freeloading instead.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. DiViDeD Silver badge

            Re: Cash

            Weirdly, even the bloke who popped round to dig me a trench to drop cables & drainage pipes into went straight to the van and returned with a mobile EFTPOS device.

            Don't tell me Arsetrailer is first at something (well, something that doesn't involve sporting of some kind)?

            Stripe me pink!

        2. Dave559 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Chips

          Wow, you can still get chips for £1 in your chippy? Lucky you! They've been about £2 here for a long time, and many places seem to have jumped up to £2.50 recently, which is way too much. I'd much rather the price was still £1 - £1.50 and you just got a smaller bag: chip shop portions often still seem to be based in a long-ago world which assumes that their customers are mostly manual labourers who will barely have anything else to eat all day, rather than, like most of us, soft desk jockeys for whom too many chips won't get burned off so easily. :-(

          (And, yes, my local chippies do contactless, although one of them has one of those annoying stupidly-designed readers where the NFC pad is on the top end, and so you can't see the screen when they wave it at you, leaving you with a worrying distrusting feeling that they might not have keyed the right price (so I don't go there any more))

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Chips

            I have the same issue with portion sizes in chippies. Although when I'm down in Yorkshire, most places I go seem to do much smaller portions, eg not just "standard" but "small" actually on the menu. Failing that, try asking for a child or "pensioners" option. Few will actually quibble that you are not a child or a pensioner, especially of you start to walk out if they refuse.

      7. DrXym Silver badge

        For some reason...

        ... builders love cash. Can't think why.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Here in Euro territory

      EUR.50 notes, the same ballpark monetary value as UKP.50, are commonly dispensed at ATMs. Out of which I recently had reason to extract EUR.70 to pay for an used air conditioner.

      But nearly all of my transactions are indeed by card or bank transfer.

      1. logicalextreme Silver badge

        Re: Here in Euro territory

        I've noticed this in quite a few countries, not just with the Euro — it can be fairly common for ATMs to dispense denominations that nobody will accept, and also mark you as a tourist. I usually learn after the first couple of withdrawals that I need to do several smaller withdrawals to get anything sensible.

        You'd have thought that by now we'd be able to request which denominations we'd like, though I guess we don't really need any more reasons for the person in front of you to spend FOREVER at the cash machine :)

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Here in Euro territory

          I've always thought ATMs were programmed by someone with a sense of humour: if I need a little, it will give me as large a note as possible; if I need a lot it will all come as fivers.

          The ATMs in my bank in Berlin will cheerfully hand out 50 and 100 euro notes. It's a funny thing; in the UK I rarely ever had more than fifty quid in my wallet; here I'll collect two or three hundred euros and they'll sit in my wallet for weeks. Something psychological about foreign money not being real, I expect.

          1. Kristian Walsh

            Re: Here in Euro territory

            Germans routinely use €100 notes, though; I’ve even seen German tourists in Ireland try to pass €200 notes in shops and getting annoyed when the sales assistant tells them to break it at a bank and come back. The Deutschmark was denominated up to 1000,- DM (a bit less than €500), and those notes were circulated too: I remember being handed one in a pay-packet once and wondering what the hell I was going to do with such a large note. (It had the Brothers Grimm on it - sehr witzig)

            €50 notes are almost as common as €20 in Ireland, but €100s and higher are almost unknown.

        2. Dr Scrum Master

          Re: Here in Euro territory

          Along with relatively large denomination notes from a bureau de change... which is why one should buy something on arrival at an airport shop in order to get some smaller change.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Here in Euro territory

            "Along with relatively large denomination notes from a bureau de change... which is why one should buy something on arrival at an airport shop in order to get some smaller change."

            That smells of collusion! I don't mean the wildly overpriced perfume at the airport shop either :-)

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Here in Euro territory

          You'd have thought that by now we'd be able to request which denominations we'd like,

          ATMs here all show you a couple of withdrawal amounts to select from, with one being an amount like EUR.70 or EUR.80 that will have the machine spit out at least a twenty, and another being "enter the amount" after which you can select the composition of the stack, of course limited by what it has available. Sometimes you see one where idle screen already shows "I'm out of $value, unable to disgorge amounts requiring that denomination".

          That 70 or 80 preselect came around when the Euro was introduced, or shortly after, as the banks found people started using the "enter amount" option a lot to extract an amount between EUR.50 (dfl.100, DM.100) and EUR.100, with 50 being found as too little and 100 being too much.

          1. logicalextreme Silver badge

            Re: Here in Euro territory

            What is the name of this utopia that you live in? Machines in the UK do inform you that they've run out of a denomination, these days usually on the idle screen, so we've got that at least.

        4. John Sturdy
          WTF?

          and in Albania

          Albanian ATMs will give you 5000 lek notes if they can, which is about 40 euro --- about three days of the average salary there. Not easy to change except at the big cafes, bookshops etc.

        5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Here in Euro territory

          "You'd have thought that by now we'd be able to request which denominations we'd like, though I guess we don't really need any more reasons for the person in front of you to spend FOREVER at the cash machine :)"

          The default seems to be to dispense the minimum number of notes possible to make the total. This minimises the machine running out of lower denominations and needing re-filling more frequently.

  5. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Turing was snapped in 1951

    And broken completely in 1954.

    I can't help feeling that featuring on a little-used currency note nearly 70 years later is inadequate repayment of our debt.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Turing was snapped in 1951

      Depends on which way you look at it. The vast majority of people probably have no idea who's face is on any of the notes they use every day other than the Queen. So putting him on a higher denomination note could be seen as more prestigious.

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I can't remember the last time I saw a £50 issued by and ATM, and I still do regularly get cash out to use as beer money going to the pub. Its all too easy to spend too much after a few beers paying on debit or credit cards so cash give me a hard limit on what I can piss up the wall.

    But even if I did get £50 from an ATM in the UK your likely to be given the third degree or even refused to take it in some places. As shops and pub staff believe its fake because no one knows what a real one actually looks like. So as soon as you get one you want rid of it in the first place that will accept it.

    1. Chloe Cresswell

      I still have some people pay me in cash - when we're doing work for someone on their home machine instead of a company they often want to pay on the spot, and that tends to be cash.

    2. logicalextreme Silver badge

      All the shops I've worked in have had Bank of England posters up in the back showing blown-up images of each side of the banknotes in circulation along with descriptions of the security features to check. One even just kept a £50 note in the safe for comparison purposes. Only worked in one place that had corresponding posters from the Scottish banks, although I imagine there's little need now that broadband and mobile internet are common.

      Realistically though with both the old and the new banknotes all you have to do is eyeball them and check for raised lettering with your thumb — I've never been duped that way (to my knowledge) and it takes less than a second to verify. Never saw a fake note that had even tried to do the raised lettering. There's UV for anything you still doubt, but I've never worked anywhere that actually had a UV lamp (presumably because they cost money and the posters didn't!).

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        UV

        There's UV for anything you still doubt, but I've never worked anywhere that actually had a UV lamp

        They appear to still be pretty common around here, especially at places where they get customers that are in somewhat of a hurry, such as vendors at train stations, pubs and cafes (lots of churn), or shops that sell stuff that'd be priced upwards from a couple of tens but where part of their clientele may be wanting to still pay cash, like for a second-hand laptop or phone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: UV

          "[shops] where part of their clientele may be wanting to still pay cash, like for a second-hand laptop or phone"

          Of course, nobody who would be very insistent on paying for a second-hand laptop or burner phone with cash would ever be up to no good and quite possibly likely to be knowingly trying to use forged bank notes!

  7. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    I guess its ironic that he is being honoured on a note just as they are being made obsolete by technology he pioneered

  8. Just A Quick Comment

    Too little, too late, but better than nothing...

    I agree with the above. However, at least he is now being honoured, which is better than NOT being honoured, and it will help preserve the memory/name of a remarkable man.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas

    I still use and love cold hard cash.

    Bah humbug!

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas

      Cold hard cash in your pyjamas sounds rather uncomfortable. Especially the temperature aspect.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas

      Wow, John McAfee, so you've managed to find an internet connection in the afterlife?

      (Too soon? Sorry.)

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas

        Wow, John McAfee

        I though it was Scrooge McDuck.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas

      Really? I've got forty thousand French Francs in my fridge.

      Sadly they've been there since the switch to Euros and I haven't got round to dealing with them.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crypto

    Currency.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone still using cash?

    Everyone who doesn't like leaving a lovely audit trail of purchases for the state still uses cash.

    You think you're getting a fantastic convenient way of paying for stuff. Once cash is gone the control you have over your money is gone too. Waving your phone always transfers money succesfully now, why should that stop, right? And if there are suddenly rules about what you spend and where, what are you going to do about it?

    1. Zimmer
      Big Brother

      Re: Anyone still using cash?--upvoted

      Control is what 'they' want.. along with the transaction fees..

      My paranoia started in the 60's with an SF story concerning state control where people paid for things with a plastic card that contained their 'credits'. When the card was refused, credits available or not, you were stuffed.. and a whole under-class of people had formed who survived by barter and devious criminal means...

      My memory of that story may be hazy but I think it developed into the protaganist discovering an anonymous helper who could hack the state's systems... but that could have been a different book...

      ..hmm, it's beginning to sound too familiar...

      Edit; PS

      When everyone can accept card payments for those used items we often sell on, privately or at a car boot sale, jumble sale etc. how long before Govt. of the day introduces a second-hand Value Added Tax ? (deducted directly from your on-line cashless account, of course.)

      Looking forward to your totally cashless society now?

    2. Pete4000uk

      Re: Anyone still using cash?

      And just what are you trying to hide, sir?

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Anyone still using cash?

      Ah, I use cash to buy my daily newspaper (the "i") from Sainsbury's. I scan my Nectar card so I don't need a receipt and therefore avoid even more waste paper. SO, from some people's point of view I have the worst of both worlds.

      Yes, reading a newspaper online is less wasteful of Scandinavian forests, but you try mopping up a spillage in the kitchen or swatting a fly with an iPad.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone still using cash?

        but you try...swatting a fly with an iPad.

        It works fine...

        ...once.

  12. steelpillow Silver badge

    GCHQ Pride

    Will be a matter of some pride to my friends in GCHQ. Long time no see; this round's on me.

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: GCHQ Pride

      Sorry, left them on the bar.

  13. The Pi Man

    How much??

    Apart from paying a builder, a couple of those £50 notes would have lasted me for the past year!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Married....

    ....think the last time I had a £50 note was before I was married. Not seen any since!

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Cash-only in podunksville

    I live in a tiny shithole town on the Florida space coast (I got paid lots to move here to do computer stuff for rocket people) and most of the restaurants are mom-and-pop affairs that are cash-only.

    We have ONE ATM for the local credit union (I think the UK equivalent is a "building society"?) which breaks down a lot. It's sad.

    A couple weeks ago, I had a guy at Arby's (roast beef sandwiches instead of burgers, but still fast food) throw a temper tantrum because I gave him cash. He made a theatrical production out of taking my money with 2 fingers and going over and slamming on the soap dispenser while glaring at me, I wanted to see him do it again the next day, but he's not there any more.

    Speaking of tips, I now do those by cash on the table, even when I'm paying the bill by card.

    I have a phone app where I note down the tip along with the payment, and I've seen quite a few times where the final amount on my bank statement is the bill without the tip. I've gone in to complain, and they "don't know what's going on" so my waitstaff is getting stiffed a significant amount of money.

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