The humble £1 coin has graced our wallets in its current form since 1983 when it replaced the old £1 note, but times are changing. It's been given a complete rebrand – gone is the circular, single-colour coin of old, for now we have a 12-sided two-colour model with sophisticated technology to scupper counterfeiters.
The new model is touted as being the most secure coin in the world, with the Royal Mint introducing it amid concerns about the current version's susceptibility to counterfeiting. The Mint believes that as many as 3% of existing £1 coins are fake – as many as 2 million counterfeit coins are removed each year, out of the estimated 1.5 billion in circulation – with the 30-year-old coin not having as advanced technology as most other, newer, coins in existence.
The new design is based on that of the old threepenny bit which went out of circulation in 1971, and will be roughly the same size as the current £1 coin. By incorporating state of the art technology it can be easily authenticated at every stage of the cash cycle using high-speed automated detection, with the move intended to increase public confidence in the currency and save money by cutting down on millions of pounds worth of fraud.
A Treasury spokesman has said that the time was right to retire the existing £1 coin, saying: "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.
"We are particularly pleased that the coin will take a giant leap into the future, using cutting edge British technology while at the same time paying a fitting tribute to the past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit."
The new coin is set to be officially unveiled later today during Chancellor George Osborne's 2014 budget, with it being anticipated that it'll be introduced into circulation in 2017. The Queen's head will be on the "heads" side of the coin, as it is on all legal tender, but there'll be a competition to decide what image will go on the back.
The announcement comes soon after the decision was made to introduce polymer banknotes, swapping from the traditional cotton note to again increase security and reduce the possibility of counterfeiting. The new notes are set to be introduced in 2016, a year before the new coin will come into being, with the Bank of England saying the combination of the two would "enhance the security and integrity of the currency".
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