The new pound coin arrives today – and it’s so high-tech, it’s ‘impossible’ to fake

The new pound coin arrives today – and it’s so high-tech, it’s ‘impossible’ to fake

The Royal Mint will release around 300 million 12-sided copies of the new £1 coin on March 28

Tuesday 28 March 2017

There are 30 billion coins in circulation across the UK. Of these, 1.6 billion are £1 coins – and millions are fake. To combat this, the round £1 coin is being replaced by Royal Mint with a new version specifically designed to reduce the number of forgeries. From today (March 28), a new pound coin enters circulation.

Why is the UK getting a new pound coin?
The Royal Mint estimates around 2.5 per cent of £1 coins in circulation are fakes. The new 12-sided coin, the Royal Mint says, has security features that are “impossible” to replicate.

“In 30 years of minting – and 20 years of mine – there has probably not been any significant change in the way we secure coins. This is a big leap for us,” Gordon Summers, the chief engraver at the Royal Mint told WIRED.

Why is the new pound coin so secure?

At the heart of its originality, Summers explains, is a top-secret, “high-security feature”, which he can’t give away the details of. “It’s something you need a machine to detect.”

He added that this feature is only being used on coins by the Royal Mint, but says it has been used on bank notes previously. “It is currently impossible for those counterfeiting coins to copy – it’s not difficult to do, it’s impossible”.

The combination of the coin’s design and weight add to the difficulty in being able to replicate it, continued Summers. There are two different metallic parts to the coin (the inner and outer) and the Royal Mint explains the 12-sides of the coin make it recognisable even by touch.

Elsewhere, it has an image similar to a hologram that changes from a Sterling symbol to the number one when the coin is seen from different angles, the Royal Mint explains.

Around the edges of the coin there is additionally “very small lettering” that has been made with an advanced laser system. Summers explained there are only a small number of such laser systems available and they cost around £500,000 to buy.

“[This machine] allows us to cut very fine details in a crisp way, which is something we couldn’t do with our old engraving machines,” he said. “Up until Christmas, we were the only people in the world with this type of laser.”

When will the old pound coin leave circulation?
At launch, around 300 million new pound coins will be pumped into the UK economy, and for several months both old and new versions will be able legal tender. The last day for the old coin, which has had its current shape since the 1980s, will be October 15.

During the crossover period, the new pound coin may not work in all machines around the UK as it is thinner and larger than the existing version. As detailed by, 85 per cent of vending machines in the UK will be able to use the coin; Tesco has also said it will keep trolleys unlocked until they are fitted with new locks.

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