The UK’s Royal Mint and Her Majesty’s Treasury have introduced a new 12-sided £1 coin, which is said to be “the most secure coin in circulation in the world.”
The Royal Mint has produced a prototype for the coin, which it says utilises multiple layers of cutting- edge technology that would allow the UK to rapidly reduce the rate of counterfeit coins entering general circulation.
There are still steps to take before a final decision is made on the precise specifications of the new coin, including the metal composition. The Royal Mint plans to work closely with key industry stakeholders to conduct a full consultation in order to understand the potential impact for industry. A public consultation will also be held this summer.
A public design competition will be held at a later date to choose the design for the ‘tails’ side of the coin, which is expected to be introduced in 2017.
The proposed £1 coin’s 12-sided shape is the same as the pre-decimalisation threepence piece. It will be constructed from two different coloured metals.
The coin will also contain an integrated secure identification systems (iSIS) security feature – a new high security coinage currency system developed by the Royal Mint. iSIS involves the application of an existing security technology that has been used for decades in banknotes. This would be the first time this security is embedded into coins.
“After 30 years’ loyal service, the time is right to retire the current £1 coin, and replace it with the most secure coin in the world,” said George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer.
“With advances in technology making high value coins like the £1 ever more vulnerable to counterfeiters, it’s vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency. I am particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting-edge British technology while at the same time, paying tribute to the past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit.”
Hitesh Patel, UK forensic partner at accountancy group KPMG commented: “Changing the pound is a welcome move that should go some way towards stopping counterfeiters from coining it in. After all, the reality is that, in today’s digital age, most people are cautious enough to regularly change passwords so a similar approach with our finances makes perfect sense.
“With around 45m fake £1 coins in circulation, the Treasury faces a constant battle against increasingly sophisticated criminals. It’s not easy to stay ahead of them, but today’s announcement is the latest clear signal of intent that fraud and counterfeiting will not be tolerated.
“The danger now, though, is that there is a risk of counterfeit currency flooding the market as fraudsters seek to dispose of their coins whilst the current pound remains legal tender, and also create more counterfeit coins while they have the means to do so.
“It means that consumers and businesses, alike, must be particularly vigilant. Yet, at the same time, their focus must not be diverted entirely towards the pound in their pocket; the digital age means that just as much vigilance must be paid to online transactions and payments in different currencies.”
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