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New £1 Coin to Counteract Counterfeiters

New £1 Coin to Counteract Counterfeiters

In 2017, a new £1 coin is going to be introduced by the Royal Mint that will include the same counterfeiting-proof technology that British banknotes contain.

The current pound coin has been around since 1983, and was brought in to phase out the £1 banknote. It is one of the oldest coins still in circulation, but because it has been around so long, it has become vulnerable to counterfeiting. Out of the one-and-a-half billion coins estimated to be in circulation right now, 45 million are thought to be forgeries, even though around two million are removed every year.

The new £1 will be able the same size as the current one, but will be based on the design of the old threepence, or threepenny bit, a distinctive 12-sided coin that was in circulation until decimalisation in 1971 and was one of the first coins to feature the Queen’s portrait.

Possibly the most important feature of the new coin will be the Integrated Secure Identification System, or iSIS, that won the Wales Innovation Award 2013 for the Royal Mint.

“iSIS is technology that has been available in bank notes for 20 years, but now we can actually use it in a coin,” explained the Royal Mint’s Coin Circulation Director Andrew Mills. He said it had been difficult to integrate the technology into coins before now because of them being made of metal, but they had now figured out how it was possible. He added the technology inside the coin wouldn’t wear as the coin ages and would provide it with the same multi-levels of security as a banknote.

Image source: The Royal Mint official website

The announcement of a new one pound coin was made by George Osborne in his annual budget talk on 19 March. “One in 30 pound coins is counterfeit,” he said in the speech, “and that costs businesses and the taxpayers millions each year.” He explained that the coin with take three years to produce and will “blend the security features of the future with inspiration from our past… A more resilient pound for a more resilient economy.”

As on all legal tender in the UK, one side of the new coin will feature the Queen’s head, but an image for the reverse side – the “tails” – has yet to be determined, so the Treasury has announced that a public competition will decide what that side of the new coin will feature.

The Royal Mint has said the coin will be made so that it can fit in existing mechanisms though changes are going to have to be made to vending machines and supermarket shopping trolleys, as well as lockers at leisure centres, swimming pools and gyms.

A Treasury spokesperson said that with technology advancements making forging coins of higher value easier, it is time to put themselves ahead of the counterfeiters by using cutting edge technology. “After 30 years’ loyal service,” the spokesperson said, “the time is right to retire the current one pound coin and replace it with the most secure coin in the world.”


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