Not worth the paper it's printed on

A Mastercard-backed study, reported by, says half of Europe reckons we’ll be a cash-free society by 2016. I, for one, can’t wait.
A couple of weeks ago, I spent a few days back in my native Belfast. As you may or may not know, Northern Ireland’s banks issue their own (sterling) banknotes. If you’ve ever found yourself in possession of one such note whilst in England, you’ll know that people generally don’t trust them. Despite the word ‘sterling’ being written on them. If you’re a regular traveller to or from the Province, you soon learn how to avoid picking up local banknotes during your stay. This time, however, I got caught out… and on my return to England, there was a minor incident in my local Chinese takeaway, when they refused to take my money.
The arrangements for local banknotes in Scotland and Northern Ireland date back to 1845. The detailed rules surrounding them, and indeed Bank of England notes, are extraordinary: (Scottish and NI) notes are not legal tender; only Bank of England notes are legal tender but only in England and Wales. The term legal tender does not in itself govern the acceptability of banknotes in transactions. Whether or not notes have legal tender status, their acceptability as a means of payment is essentially a matter for agreement between the parties involved.
Sure, there are going to be problems with any electronic system. But it can’t be as barmy as the state of affairs which ensues – well into the 21st century, by the way – when I can’t pay for a Chinese takeaway.

One thought on “Not worth the paper it's printed on”

  1. Serves you right for eating that take-away stuff. Don’t you know how much MSG they put in that? Not to mention what else goes into that food…

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