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From a child millionaire to a technological leap – a year in the life of Premium Bonds

It’s been another great year for Premium Bonds. A new child millionaire, an upgrade for ERNIE, and several other new Premium Bonds features to make saving even more accessible and easier for all. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights from a busy 2019 for one of the nation’s favourite savings products.

One child millionaire plus 23 adult millionaires

There were 24 millionaires created in 2019, including a child, showing that creating a strong savings habit from a young age can reap rewards for children who are gifted Premium Bonds or choose to save their cash this way. Agent Million covered the breadth of Britain from their base in Blackpool, breaking the news to 24 new millionaires and travelling a total of 5,094 miles in 2019; the equivalent of going from Land’s End to John O’Groats almost six times. Unsuspecting Bond holders in Kent and Hertfordshire had visits from Agent Million a whopping three times for each county.

Throughout 2019, there were a staggering 39,863,020 prizes given away, which equated to a total 2019 prize fund of more than £1.1 billion. Premium Bonds isn’t just about creating millionaires as this year there were 66 prizes of £100,000, 132 prizes of £50,000, 264 prizes of £25,000 and 658 prizes of £10,000. There were also 1,317 £5,000 winners and a massive 22,785 £1,000 winners.

Upgrading the iconic ERNIE

Back in March this year, NS&I took a quantum leap for Premium Bonds and launched ERNIE 5. After 15 years of service, ERNIE 4’s time was up, with the faithful machine only able to generate a meagre 1 million numbers per hour. Enter ERNIE 5; the new incarnation of NS&I’s faithful random number generator can do the monthly prize draw in less than 15 minutes. ERNIE 5 is able to generate up to 100 million numbers, meaning that this incarnation of NS&I’s famous random number generator is futureproofed for years to come. Not bad for a random number generator that’s smaller than a five pence piece!

'Alexa, ask Premium Bonds have I won this month?’

Also in March, NS&I became one of the first financial organisations in the UK to develop an Alexa skill. With Premium Bonds customers already able to check whether they’ve won via both the app and the NS&I website, this represented a convenient new way for customers to check their holdings on the second working day of each month. With ownership of voice activated speakers skyrocketing in recent years , this represents a further way that NS&I can target a younger audience, helping them to talk about money and ensure that they develop healthy savings habits for life.

Premium Bonds for all

This year was significant when NS&I reduced the minimum investment for Premium Bonds to £25 from £100, the lowest since 1993. Originally announced in the October 2018 Budget, this makes the mainstay of Britain’s saving’s culture more accessible to swathes of people across the country.

Since the introduction of the lower minimum on 1 February 2019, 68,145 investments of £25, worth £1.7 million, have been made for children under the age of 16. A further 58,362 investments between £26 and £99, worth £3 million, have also been made, helping bring down the average age of active NS&I customers from 57 to 55. The average age of new NS&I customers is now 35 years old, whilst 822,802 children under 16 now have Premium Bonds with a total holding balance of £1.3 billion.

Expanding gifting for children

Fast forward to August, and following the minimum investment for Premium Bonds being reduced to £25 from £100, NS&I made gifting for children open to all, meaning that aunties, uncles and family friends can gift Premium Bonds to children, alongside parents and grandparents. Coupled with the change in the minimum investment, the opening up of gifting for children means that more children across the country will be inspired to save by their family and friends.

During 2019, there were a total of 552,858 prizes for children, with a total of £16,671,000 won throughout the year. Since the £1 million prize was launched, there have been 11 child winners, with the latest one coming in 2019, showing that investing on behalf of a child can be more than worthwhile.

‘A memorable year’

Jill Waters, NS&I Retail Director, said “It’s been a memorable year for Premium Bonds. We’re delighted to have upgraded and futureproofed ERNIE, whilst it’s great to see another child scoop the £1 million jackpot prize, showing that Premium Bonds are the perfect way to encourage children to save from a young age in a responsible and fun savings product.

“We were also pleased to lower the minimum investment amount to £25, making Premium Bonds, and thus saving money, more accessible. Ingrained in the culture of NS&I is not just a commitment to encourage people to save, but also a duty to ensure that well-loved products such as Premium Bonds are open and accessible to all.

“As part of making Premium Bonds more accessible, we were delighted when November saw us make our 50 millionth payment directly via BACS. With more people than ever having their prizes paid directly into their bank account (39% of prizes during 2019), this milestone means that 50 million fewer warrants have been issued via post – this represents a significant drop in our carbon footprint, as well as a major efficiency saving for NS&I. It also makes life easier for our customers.”

Notes to Editors

  1. NS&I has spokespeople available for interview, including Agent Million, as well as a wealth of facts and figures (including regional) about Premium Bonds. If you require any further details, please contact the NS&I media team on the contact details below or tweet your question to @nsandi
  2. All Premium Bonds prizes are free of UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.
  3. NS&I is one of the largest savings organisations in the UK, offering a range of savings and investments to 25 million customers. All products offer 100% capital security, because NS&I is backed by HM Treasury.
  4. The annual Premium Bonds prize fund rate is currently 1.40% and the odds of each individual Bond number winning any prize are currently 24,500 to 1.
  5. Pictures of ERNIE 5, the previous ERNIEs and Premium Bonds, including the Premium Bonds app are available in high-resolution jpeg format from the NS&I media team.
  6. Customers can buy Premium Bonds online at nsandi.com and over the phone by calling 08085 007 007. This is a free phone number and calls to it from the UK are free from both landlines and mobiles. Calls may be recorded. Customers can also buy by post. Existing customers can also buy by bank transfer and standing order. Each investment must be at least £25.
  7. Further information on NS&I, including press releases and product information, is available on the website at nsandi.com. Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi or join the conversation on Facebook: Premium Bonds made by ERNIE.

NS&I media team

Chris Dowsett 020 7932 6799 chris.dowsett@nsandi.com

Jonty Alone 020 7932 6633 jonty.alone@nsandi.com

Sara Brown 020 7932 6874 sara.brown@nsandi.com

Sam Faulkner 0207 932 6801 sam.faulkner@nsandi.com

James Carr 020 7932 6829 james.carr@nsandi.com

Out of hours: All numbers above diverted to staff mobile phones

Follow us on Twitter: @nsandi

Website: www.nsandi.com

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