Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that people are reduced to counterfeiting one pound coins, but it does happen, and it happens often. The UK Treasury believes that there are upwards of 45 million fake one pound coins presently in circulation in the United Kingdom. The coin has been in circulation for 30 years and the Royal Mint thinks that is long enough.
In his Budget statement to the Commons, Chancellor George Osborne said (in a very British fashion) : “The prerequisite of sound money is a sound currency.”
“One in 30 pound coins is counterfeit, and that costs businesses and the taxpayer millions each year,” Mr. Osborne continued. “So I can announce that we will move to a new, highly secure, £1 coin. It will take three years. Our new pound coin will blend the security features of the future with inspiration from our past. In honour of our Queen, the coin will take the shape of one of the first coins she appeared on – the threepenny bit. A more resilient pound for a more resilient economy.”
The Pound Coin’s specs
The face of the coin is beautiful. The new coin will be “gold” inlaid with “silver” and will incorporate state-of-the-art technology to ensure it can be “authenticated via high-speed automated detection at all points within the cash cycle”, the government stated. In an interesting twist, the “tails” side of the coin will be decided by a public competition.
The current one pound coin was introduced in 1983 to replace the one pound note that was phased out over five years and made a collector’s item rather than legal tender in 1988. Of the 1.5 billion coins in circulation, the government removes around 2 million counterfeits from circulation each year.
Along with the unveiling of (one side) of the coin, the government stated that it would work with businesses who will need to change over vending machines, supermarket “trollies”, and public lockers.
“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,” stated a Treasury Spokesperson speaking of the 12-sided coin.
The change in the coin comes months after the Bank of England announced that all bills would be made of plastic rather than cotton beginning in 2016.