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The simple trick that can bring your new £20 note to life

Matthew Field
Phone picturing new £20 note - Snapchat

There is a surprise hidden within Britain’s new £20 bank notes.

The polymer notes, released into circulation today, feature a self-portrait of the artist JMW Turner and as well as one of his most celebrated paintings, The Fighting Temeraire.

However, a new collaboration between Snapchat and the Bank of England means these images can brought to life using augmented reality

Users can do this by opening the Snapchat app and hovering their a smartphone’s camera over a Snapcode, which is symbol similar to a QR code.

All you need to know about the new £20 note 

Snapcodes can be found online in Snapchat's Lenses studio or be shared by a friend. They can also be found in the app by using the search function to find the £20 note lens. It will also be featured on the Bank of England's website. This lens then allows users who point their camera at the £20 note to see it come to life. 

The feature works by overlaying interactive images onto the banknote, in a similar way to how facial filters can be placed over a user's face when using other Lenses in the Snapchat app.

The Snapchat filter

Sarah John, chief cashier at the Bank of England, said the technology allowed them to bring the note too life “in an entirely novel way”.

The note has today gone on display at The National Gallery  the home of The Fighting Temeraire.

Snapchat said the new Lens would also work on a picture of the note, for those who do not encounter one in circulation.

"The launch of the new £20 will result in Turner's paintings being amongst the most widely distributed artworks in the UK, maybe even the world," said Ed Couchman, Snapchat's UK general manager.

"We want to make sure that Snapchatters are encouraged to take note, look at the cash in their wallet and appreciate these great paintings. Hopefully, this partnership will help introduce a whole new generation to one of Britain's greatest ever painters."

The original HMS Temeraire was one of the last surviving second rate ships to survive the Battle of Trafalgar. Turner’s painting shows the ship being towed on the River Thames to be broken up in 1838.