The new pound will feature several new security features to tackle forgeries © Wire/PA Images
The new pound will feature several new security features to tackle forgeries © Wire/PA Images

New £1 coin is 'world's most secure'

27 March 2017

A new 12-sided £1 coin is set to enter circulation in the UK on Tuesday, as the nation starts to edge out the old round pound after more than 30 years.

The old coin and new coin will co-exist together for around six months, until the round pound ceases to be legal tender on October 15. 

The new 12-sided coins, made at the Royal Mint in Llantrisant, South Wales, will be the most secure in the world, boasting several new security features to prevent counterfeits, according to the Royal Mint.

The Royal Mint added 10 presses were producing around 140,000 coins per hour, or 40 per second, and had made 800m ready for circulation.

Royal Mint research curator Chris Barker said the new £1 coin was the most secure circulating coin in the world.

“We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at it in terms of security features,” he said.

“The more intricate it is, the harder it is to replicate.”

The new coin features a latent image of the Queen’s head, which changes from showing a “£” symbol to a “1” as the angle is changed, and includes an additive encased in the nickel-plated centre, which will enable authorities to spot counterfeits.

It also has additional hidden high-security features embedded within the coin, which have not been made public.

The coins will have a gold-coloured outer ring and silver-coloured inner ring and are based on the design of the old 12-sided threepenny bit, which went out of circulation in 1971.

The production of the new coins follows concerns surrounding the round pound being vulnerable to sophisticated counterfeiters, with around 45m—or one in every 30— in circulation suspected as being a forgery, according to Bloomberg.

In 2015, investigators probing a suspected major £1.2m forgery ring arrested five people in connection to a long-running inquiry into Dutch coin maker Patrick Onel, who was accused of allegedly making 30m fake £1 coins between 2006-13 at his Amsterdam mint, according to The Telegraph.

A survey undertaken by the Royal Mint in May 2015 found that the rate of counterfeit pound coins in circulation at the time decreased from 3.03% in May 2014 to 2.55% in May 2015, after the forgery ring was exposed.

The round pound coins were first launched on 21 April 1983 to replace £1 notes and The Royal Mint has produced more than 2bn round pound coins since that time.

Concerns have been raised about various coin-operated machines in the UK not being ready for the imminent introduction of the new coin into circulation.

Around 100,000 shopping trolleys at Tesco’s biggest supermarkets will be left unlocked after the supermarket giant failed to convert the trolleys in time for the circulation of the £1 coins.

Tesco said trolleys across “fewer than 200” of its shops would be left unlocked as the store upgrades them to accept the new coin.

“We’re replacing the locks on our trolleys to accept old and new pound coins as well as existing trolley tokens,” they said.

“As an interim measure we will unlock trolleys while this process is completed and we will continue to have colleagues on hand to attend trolleys in our stores, so our customers aren’t affected by the changes.”

Despite a £32m industry effort to upgrade Britain’s vending machines in time, 15% are still unable to accept the new coins, according to the Independent.

The Automatic Vending Association said that with around half a million vending machines across the UK, they estimate that all vending machines will be fully upgraded by the end of the transition period in October.

A survey by The Telegraph found that 11 out of UK’s 18 rail providers—including major providers Southern Rail and Transport for London—had admitted that some of their ticket machines would not be updated in time for the change.

The Treasury said they had estimated that £433m in £1 coins are nestling in various savers’ collections or in and under items of furniture.

David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, urged the public to change their old £1 coins before the October deadline.

“We are calling on everybody—from conscientious children saving pocket money in piggy banks, to families who like to hold on to their coins for a rainy day—to be ready for this change,” he said.

“You have until autumn to spend your round pounds or exchange them for the edgy new version at your bank.”

The switch is the biggest to affect Britain’s currency since the old 50p coin was scrapped almost 20 years ago. 

The Royal Mint is the world’s largest exporter of coins and supplies them to 40 countries.

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