The Royal Mint will launch a new £1 coin in 2017, which it claims will become the most secure coin in circulation.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to reveal the decision to replace the current coin in his Budget speech today (19 March), in a bid to combat the number of counterfeit £1 coins in circulation.
He said: “After thirty 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.
It is estimated that around £45 million worth of fake £1 coins are currently in general circulation and the Treasury is keen to make manufacturing the counterfeit currency more difficult.
The Royal Mint has produced a prototype for a replacement £1 coin which utilises multiple layers of cutting edge technology, thanks to its Integrated Secure Identification System (iSIS) programme. The 12-sided coin pays tribute to the past by mimicking the threepenny bit in shape.
Andrew Mills, The Royal Mint’s director of circulating coin, said: “The development of our iSIS project has enabled us to develop a new generation of low cost, high security, plated coin with multiple levels of banknote-strength security built in. It will enable enhanced security throughout the cash cycle, from vending, parking, retail, and banking.”
iSIS has been developed after more than two years of intense research by The Royal Mint's in-house team, and has seen an investment of over £2 million to date.
The technology is robust and secure and its use within the UK's currency will reduce costs by replacing expensive clad and homogeneous coins with a more affordable full-plated option. It will generate lifetime cost savings through unmatched durability, lasting up to 30 times longer than an equivalent value banknote and the iSIS technology is not a surface coating so it will not wear off over time.