British Royal Mint introduces 12-sided pound coin

After more than three decades, the British pound coin is receiving a makeover.

Great Britain announced Wednesday that it will be replacing the 30-year-old, heavy flat piece with a 12-sided coin designed with two different metals, according to the Associated Press. Officials say that it will look similar to the “threepenny bit,” a coin that was in circulation in England between the years 1937 and 1971.

The new coin, which will begin circulation in 2017, will be a lot harder to counterfeit. It is estimated that 45 million (or three percent) of the pound coins presently making its way through the market economy are fake. Roughly two million forged coins have to be fished out of circulation, which produces an unneeded expense for financial institutions, money stores and the overall economy.

The front of the coin will feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the other side will be decided through a public contest – a lot of women have been dissatisfied with the lack of renowned females featured on the nation’s currencies.

In April 1983, the Royal Mint introduced the thick round coin as a way to replace the small pound note that had lost much of its purchasing power as well as being the victim of incredible wear and tear. More than a decade later, the Mint welcomed the two-pound piece that became quite popular as it was easily spent.

“After 30 years’ loyal service, the time is right to retire the current 1-pound coin and replace it with the most secure coin in the world,” Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a statement. “It’s vital that we keep several paces ahead of the criminals to maintain the integrity of our currency.”

This isn’t the only revamping of British currency. Mark Carney, the head of the Bank of England and former governor of the Bank of Canada, announced last year that the central bank will be introducing plastic bank notes in 2016. These notes, which were also implemented in Canada two years ago, have the ability to survive a wide variety of conditions, including washing machine spin cycles.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s expected that vending machines, payphones, parking meters and other machines that accept coins will have to be redesigned in order to accommodate the new coins. This could cost the British economy about $30 million.

Osborne said that it’s the role of the central bank and the federal government to make the transition as smooth as possible, the UK Independent reported.

“Our role is very important – for now it is to consult with our stakeholder and a major stakeholder is the automatic vending association,” said Osborne. “We have to make sure that, as well as being a secure coin, we look at the impact to industry and make sure that we do everything we can to make the changeover as smooth as possible.”

The Automatic Vending Association (AVA) issued a statement in which it welcomed the announcement but urged collaboration to make the costs as low as possible.