If Britain is on the verge of becoming a cashless society the UK Treasury and Royal Mint clearly did not receive the memo as they kick off a campaign to help retailers and other major businesses to prepare for the imminent arrival of a new 12-sided £1 coin.
Coming soon after the issue of a new batch of synthetic five pound notes, the Royal Mint has established a business-readiness Website as part of a campaign to spur beleaguered retailers and vending machine operators to upgrade facilities in preparation for the March 2017 launch of the new coin, which was first announced in the 2014 Budget.
Billed as the most secure coin in the world, it features a bi-metallic construction, similar to that of the current £2 coin, two colours, 12 sides and the Royal Mint's new anti-counterfeiting technology, iSIS, which can scan and verify coins as authentic within seconds. Other security features include a hologram-like image that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when the coin is seen from different angles. It also has micro-lettering and milled edges.
The drive to reduce counterfeit coins comes as data from the Royal Mint estimates that three per cent of all £1 coins, or 45 million, that are currently in circulation are forgeries - a figure which reaches six per cent in certain parts of the country.
David Gauke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, says: "The pound as we know it will not be round for much longer. The introduction of this new £1 coin will be a highly significant event and we are working with The Royal Mint to ensure key industries are ready and to ensure a smooth transition."