March 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. will introduce a new 1-pound coin in 2017 as part of a crackdown on counterfeiters, after the current model spawned millions of fakes.
The new pound, modeled on the 12-sided pre-decimal 3-penny piece introduced in 1937 and removed from circulation in 1971, will have features making it one of the most secure coins in the world, the Treasury in London said in a statement today. One pound is currently equivalent to $1.66.
“It’s vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency,” the Treasury said. The new design will use “cutting-edge British technology while at the same time paying a fitting tribute to the past.”
More than 2 million counterfeit 1-pound coins a year have been removed from circulation over the past few years, according to the Royal Mint, with 3 percent of those in use estimated to be forgeries. The government will consult on the details of the new coin, focusing on the impact on business, before its introduction.
A public competition will be held to decide on the design on the reverse of the coin, with Queen Elizabeth II featuring on the other, the Treasury said. The coin, developed at the Royal Mint’s headquarters in South Wales, will have a bi-metallic construction and use the Mint’s Integrated Secure Identification System technology.
The 3-penny bit was the first U.K. coin to use a 12-sided shape, making it popular during World War II as it was easy to recognize in blackouts. The current 1-pound coin has been in use for more than 30 years.
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