According to the Bank of England, approximately one-in-30 £1 coins in circulation are counterfeits, so it was an absolute priority to introduce a new highly secure coin that’s much harder to copy. The Royal Mint is now producing 1.5 billion of the new 12-sided £1 coins, duly replacing the current coin for the first time in more than 30 years.
Since 1 January this year, G4S has brought in bulk stocks of the new coins, bundling them and distributing stocks to G4S coin sites across the UK ready for launch.
A small number of selected sites were supplied with coins on Monday 27 March to be dispensed the following day. The majority of the rest of the coins will begin to flow from cash centres and subsequently appear in circulation over the coming weeks.
G4S will move more than £100 million in coins each week on behalf of banking and Cash-in-Transit customers, while also holding contingency stock in readiness for any spikes in demand.
Peter Wright, head of planning and regulation at G4S Cash Solutions (UK), said: “It’s an exciting time to be involved in cash in the UK. We’re delighted to be playing such an important role in this new generation of British currency.”
G4S will also help to remove the old £1 coins from circulation as they pass through the business’ branches and eight coin centres, sending them for recycling. The old £1 coins will cease to be legal tender as of Sunday 15 October.
Most secure coin in the world
According to The Royal Mint, the new £1 coin will be “the most secure in the world” with at least six security elements including a high security feature hidden in the coin to protect it from counterfeiting and an image, much like a hologram, that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ when the coin is seen from different angles.
As is the case with the polymer notes, security is a major benefit of the new-look coin. Chemicals used in the metal to manufacture the coins render them significantly harder to counterfeit.
The next stage in the transformation of the nation’s currency follows the successful introduction of the polymer £5 note which began in September last year. This will be followed in September this year with the UK’s first polymer £10 note. G4S will also play a key role in the removal of around one third of the £8.5 billion worth of old £10 notes currently in circulation.
Last month, G4S cash centres received ‘exemplar’ test £10 notes in order to check that the high-speed sorting machines are able to handle the high-tech polymer note and make any necessary adaptions before the national launch.
G4S’ work on issuing the polymer £5 note is on track and, to date, the company has delivered 80 million notes. That’s £400 million worth of notes. The company has also taken £200 million of old £5 notes out of circulation.
The old £5 note will cease to be legal tender on 5 May this year and, in the very near future, the Bank of England will start reminding the public and businesses to return any they still have in their possession. While the notes stop being legal tender, they will still hold their value and bank branches will take them. They can also be taken to the Bank of England’s Threadneedle Street office where the ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand’ decree will be honoured.
G4S Cash-in-Transit crews delivered one million pounds in new £5 notes to locations around the country by 6.00 am on the day of the launch on 13 September last year. Preparing for the polymer £10 note is an even greater challenge, with twice as many old £10 notes in circulation (around 850 million of them, in fact).
Peter Wright added: “The biggest challenge for the £10 is the sheer volume of notes. There’s also a lot more equipment that needs to be adapted, upgraded and, in a few cases, replaced. We started planning for the £10 note launch in mid-2015, when we began to look at the effect on bulk movements and storage at our cash centres.”
There are many benefits to be realised from replacing the old paper money with polymer. The most obvious is durability: making the average note last two to three times longer. The new notes are also far harder to counterfeit.
Subsequent to the polymer £10 note being released, the new £20 note is scheduled to follow in 2020.
Stamping out counterfeit coins
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, observed: “This is a giant step forward to help stamp out counterfeit coins and save businesses and the taxpayer millions of pounds every year. This marks the start of the six-month transition period, so I’d urge everyone to make sure they spend, return or donate their old round pounds before 15 October. We have been working hard with businesses over the last three years to help make this changeover as smooth as possible.”
Adam Lawrence, CEO of The Royal Mint, said: “It’s an historic day for UK coinage, and one that The Royal Mint has been working towards, together with businesses and industry, for a number of years. From this point on, the public will start to encounter for themselves the most innovative and secure coin ever produced by The Royal Mint. It has been designed to be fit for the future, using security features that aim to safeguard our currency, and indeed currencies around the world, for years to come. Remaining one step ahead of today’s sophisticated counterfeiters remains a constant challenge, and this coin undoubtedly helps in that battle.”