New one pound coin: Every vending machine, shopping trolley and parking meter in the UK could need to be adapted, the Royal Mint hints

The current £1 coin is to be scrapped and replaced by a new high-tech version

Rob Williams
Wednesday 19 March 2014 13:03 GMT
George Osborne tweeted a picture of the new coin ahead of the budget today
George Osborne tweeted a picture of the new coin ahead of the budget today (Twitter)

Every shopping trolley, public phonebox and vending machine could have to be adapted to suit the new £1 coin the head of circulation for the Royal Mint hinted today.

Speaking on the Radio Four Today programme this morning Andrew Mills said introducing the new coin would cost the economy around £15 to £20 million over the three years prior to its introduction.

Pressed on the issue of whether every vending machine in the country would have to be adapted ahead of the changeover, Mr Mills said it was a 'possibility' and a 'likelihood'.

The current £1 coin is to be scrapped and replaced by a new high-tech version as it emerged that over 45 million fakes are now in circulation.

The proposed new £1 coin, which will have the same shape as the pre-decimalisation 12-sided "threepenny bit", will be the hardest in the world for criminals to copy, the Government said.

A public competition will also be held to design the "tails" side of the coin, which is expected to be introduced from 2017.

Further details about the competition will be revealed at a later date and, as with all UK coins, the Queen's image will be on the "heads" side.

George Osborne is set to announce the introduction of the new coin, which will be roughly the same size as the existing one, during today's budget speech.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme Andrew Mills said: “Our role is very important - for now it is to consult with our stakeholder and a major stakeholder is the automatic vending association.

“We have to make sure that, as well as being a secure coin, we look at the impact to industry and make sure that we do everything we can to make the changeover as smooth as possible.”

Royal Mint figures show that around one in 33 (3%) £1 coins in the economy is a fake. In some parts of the UK, as many as one in every 20 (5%) £1 coins is a dud.

Around two million fake £1 coins have to be fished out of circulation every year, causing expense for banks, cash handling centres and the economy.

Common ways to spot fakes include the milled edges of the coin being poorly-defined, the colour not matching genuine coins and uneven lettering.

Several features of the planned new coin should make it harder to fake, including its 12-sided shape and its construction from two differently-coloured metals.

The coins will also incorporate the Royal Mint's new "isis" technology which stands for integrated secure identification system and means they can be quickly scanned to check they are genuine.

The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) said in a statement on its website that it was not surprised by the plans, but that it is "imperative" that those involved work together to ensure the changes can be made "at the lowest possible cost to industry".

A Treasury spokesman said: "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.

"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 past in the 12-sided design of the iconic threepenny bit."

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