New £1 coin 'most secure in world'

New £1 coinThe £1 coin is being replaced for the first time in over 30 years because of its vulnerability to sophisticated counterfeiters, says the UK government.

The new coin, which was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last year's budget, will be "the most secure coin in circulation in the world," according to HM Treasury.

The new features include a bi-metallic construction, in two colours, with a 12-sided design reminiscent of the old 'threepenny bit'  which was in circulation between 1937 and 1971. It incorporates the Royal Mint's new Integrated Secure Identification System (iSIS) anti-counterfeiting technology, which includes three tiers of banknote-strength security and can scan and verify coins as authentic within seconds.

The security technology was developed in-house at the Royal Mint's headquarters in Llantrisant, South Wales and took four years to perfect. It is based on security features that have been available for use in bank notes for 20 years.

The current electro-magnetic signature in a coin can degrade over time, making forgeries harder to detect, but the iSIS technology can check 4,000 coins a minute for authenticity and does not wear out. The Royal Mint has now started offering the technology to other countries around the world.

It is estimated that about 3 per cent of all £1 coins in circulation (or 45 million) are now forgeries. In some parts of the UK, it could be as high as 6 per cent.

"Over the past few years, around two million counterfeit £1 coins have been removed from circulation each year and the new, highly secure coin will reduce costs to business and the taxpayer," said the Treasury.

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