A new ?1 coin, billed by the Royal Mint as the “most secure coin in the world”, is to be introduced in 2017.
The move comes amid concerns about the 30-year old coin’s vulnerability to counterfeiting, with an estimated 45 million forgeries in circulation.
The new coin is based on the design of the old threepenny bit, a 12-sided coin in circulation between 1937 and 1971.
A competition will be held to decide what image to put on the “tails” side of the coin.
The Royal Mint, which believes 3% of existing ?1 coins are fake, said the move would increase “public confidence” in the UK’s currency and reduce costs for banks and other businesses.
The government said it would hold a detailed consultation on the impact of the change on businesses, which may face costs from having to change vending machines, supermarket trolleys and lockers at gyms and leisure centres.
The announcement comes as Chancellor George Osborne prepares to deliver his fifth Budget on Wednesday.
He tweeted?this picture of the ?1 coin next to the Budget box, captioned: “Today I will deliver a Budget for a resilient economy – starting with a resilient pound coin.”
The current ?1 coin was introduced in 1983 as part of the phasing-out of the ?1 note, which was withdrawn five years later.
Of the 1.5 billion coins estimated to be in circulation, as many as two million counterfeit ones are removed every year.
The government said the existing coin had been in existence longer than most others and its technology was no longer suitable to combat increasingly sophisticated counterfeiting techniques.
The proposed new coin will be roughly the same size as the current one and will be based on the threepenny piece that disappeared after decimalisation in the early 1970s.
The new coin will be made in two colours and will incorporate state-of-the-art technology to ensure it can be “authenticated via high-speed automated detection at all points within the cash cycle”, the government added.
While the Queen’s head will be on the obverse side of the coin, as it is on all legal tender in the UK, the Treasury has said there will be a public competition to decide the image on the other side.
- The three penny bit was in circulation between 1937 and 1971
- It was the first coin to use a 12-sided shape, and was worth one 80th of a pound
- It replaced the older silver three penny bit, often used as a prize in Christmas puddings
- A silver three pence is still manufactured in very small numbers by the Royal Mint for inclusion in sets of Maundy Money.
A Treasury spokesman said the time was right to “retire” the existing ?1 coin and using the threepenny bit as inspiration for its replacement was a “fitting tribute” to such an iconic design.
“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,” he added.
Adam Lawrence, chief executive of the Royal Mint, which is based in Llantrisant, south Wales, said the process could change the way coins were made in the future.
“It is our aim to identify and produce a pioneering new coin which helps to reduce the opportunities for counterfeiting, helping to boost public confidence in the UK’s currency in the process.”
The Bank of England, which earlier this year announced banknotes would be made out of plastic rather than cotton from 2016, said the move would “enhance the security and integrity of the currency”.