A new £1 coin which will be the most secure coin in circulation in the world has been announced by the government.
The new coin will have the same shape as the 12-sided three pence piece or ‘threepenny bit’.
The current £1 coin has been in circulation for over thirty years - much longer than the normal life cycle of a modern British coin. Its technology is no longer suitable for a coin of its value, leaving it vulnerable to ever more sophisticated counterfeiters.
The government will consult on the new coin in detail, focusing on the impacts on business, and expects to introduce it in 2017.
As with all our coins, the Queen’s effigy will be on the ‘heads’ side, but the Treasury has announced today announced that there will be a public competition to decide the design for the reverse, or ‘tails’ side of the coin.
The most secure coin in circulation in the world
In figures released today, the Royal Mint estimates that about 3% of all £1 coins are now forgeries. In some parts of the United Kingdom country, it is as high as 5%. Over the past few years, around 2 million fake £1 coins have been removed from circulation each year. This is a direct cost to the banks and cash handling centres, and to the economy.
In addition to these costs, increasing rates of counterfeiting could in the future, pose a challenge to the integrity our currency which is so important to the resilience of our economy.
Whilst law enforcement agencies are successfully cracking down on counterfeiting groups, the only sustainable solution to ensure that we stay ahead of the criminals is to introduce a new, highly secure coin, reducing costs to business and the taxpayer.
About the new coin
The proposed new coin will be roughly the same size as the £1 coin, and has a number of features which the Royal Mint confirms will make it the most secure coin in the world. These features include:
- a bi-metalic construction, of two colours
- 12-sided design
- the inclusion of the Royal Mint’s new iSIS technology, (Integrated Secure Identification System), which incorporates three tiers of banknote-strength security and can be authenticated via high-speed automated detection at all points within the cash cycle
The proposed new coin represents a great success for UK science and manufacturing. The new, world leading iSIS technology has been entirely developed in-house at the Royal Mint’s headquarters in South Wales.
The threepenny bit
The new £1 coin also pays a fitting tribute to Britain’s heritage. It is the same shape as the 12-sided threepenny bit, which was in circulation from 1937 until decimalisation in 1971.
The threepenny bit was in the first group of coins ever to feature the portrait of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
The new version coined in 1953 bore a design of a Tudor chained portcullis, which was inherited by the 1p piece after decimalisation and remains on the coin today, as well as being the badge of the Palace of Westminster.
The threepenny bit was the first British coin to use a 12-sided shape which enhanced its popularity during the Second World War, as its distinctive size and shape made it the easiest coin to recognise during the blackout.
By the time of decimalisation 1.2 billion had been issued for circulation.