A NEW £1 coin will be introduced to beat clever fraudsters targeting the current one, George Osborne will reveal today.
The Chancellor will use his Budget speech to announce “the most secure coin in circulation in the world” - to be introduced in 2017.
And he will delight traditionalists by modelling the replacement £1 on the 'Threepenny bit', the 12-sided three pence coin which was scrapped in 1971.
A Treasury source said: “After thirty years loyal service, the time is right to retire the current £1 coin and replace it with the most secure coin in the world.
“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.”
The Royal Mint estimates that a staggering 45 million £1 coins - three per cent of the total - are now forgeries. In some areas, that proportion is six per cent.
Around 2m counterfeits are removed from circulation each year, imposing a cost on the banks, cash handling centres and the wider economy.
Now the replacement will be bi-metallic, with two colours and boast Integrated Secure Identification System (iSIS) technology, with three tiers of security.
One side will carry Queen's head, but there will be a public competition to decide the design for the reverse, or 'tails' side, of the coin.