The retailer who got in touch doesn’t wish to be named. He sent me a copy of a letter he had received from Cashzone, telling him that a new code of conduct by the Bank of England requires all banknotes to be authenticated by a machine approved by the Bank of England before they are dispensed. Cashzone had sourced a supplier, SJP, which offers a fully-managed service. The cheapest was £104.

Was this true, he wanted to know. It was a new one on me, but I went to the bank’s website and there it was. Here’s part of what it says: “The Code covers Customer-Operated Cash Dispensers, in particular ATMs and self-service checkouts. Transactions where banknotes are handed over by a person are not included. This is because members of the public receiving banknotes from another person, at a till or branch counter, have the opportunity to refuse the banknotes if they are not confident that they are genuine. This is not possible where the notes are machine dispensed. Moreover, it would be difficult for a member of the public to prove whether a given suspect banknote came from a particular machine, and it would be difficult for the machine operator to prove it had not. Code compliance helps to protect both parties.”

As I see it, it isn’t enforceable by law, but it is probably in Cashzone’s contract that customers must follow any new compliance rules.

Seems an odd one given that only 1% of banknotes are fake and that hard-to-forge polymer notes are to be introduced within two years (even earlier in Scotland).