Britain could be set to lose £1.1bn in small change when the existing pound coins are withdrawn from circulation.
It’s certainly a headline-grabbing figure – more than a billion quid?! – but that warning comes from the generally sober MasterCard, in the run-up to this month’s release of the new 12-sided pound coin.
The loss is all down to a key statistic, really: In a survey of 2,000 British consumers, 87% were not aware that the old pound coins will be obsolete on October 15th this year. There are currently 1.55bn pound coins in circulation, all of which will cease to be legal tender.
Worst, still, the survey suggests that 17% of people didn’t even know a new pound coin was about to enter circulation.
The result? Those round pounds that have been hoarded in a NatWest piggy bank since 1989 will still be sitting there after the October 15th deadline has passed. And they’ll be utterly worthless.
That’s not to say there has been no advance warning. When the new coin was first revealed, chief secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:
We are calling on everybody – from conscientious children saving pocket money in piggy banks to families who like to hold on to their coins for a rainy day – to be ready for this change. You have until autumn to spend your round pounds or exchange them for the edgy new version at your bank.
However, despite the announcement, it seems most consumers are still in the dark. Mark Barnett, president of MasterCard UK and Ireland, was aghast at the survey’s findings, and the total lack of awareness generated by the new incoming pound coin. He said:
We were shocked to discover just how few people are aware of when the current £1 coin goes out of circulation. Although the new £1 coin is a crucial step towards fighting fraud, cash never offers the same level of protection as using cards or other digital payment offerings.
The survey also revealed some interesting habits when it comes to pound coin hoarders. Those most likely to save pounds are aged between 18-24 years old, while the average household owns £15 in pound coins.
The new pound, which features 12 sides (a dodecagon) and is bi-metallic like the £2 coin, will be the first makeover the humble quid has received since its introduction in 1983.
Back then, the coin’s aim was to replace the pound note. In 2017, however, the motive for redesigning the pound coin is somewhat different.
With experts estimating that a whopping one in 30 pound coins are counterfeit, one of the primary reasons for the change is clear: Combatting fraud.
Indeed, the Royal Mint- who are releasing 1.5bn new coins – are already hailing it as ‘the most secure coin in the world,’ once it launches on March 28th.
Those security features include a holographic image, distinctive milled edges and what’s been dubbed as a ‘hidden high security feature.’
But it’s not all good news for the quid; some have pointed out that the new legal tender will cause chaos for customers attempting to use vending machines, lockers and parking metres. A small price to pay, perhaps, to know that the pound in your pocket is likely worth precisely that.
In light of the survey’s results, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, commercial secretary to the Treasury offered another strong reminder:
Our message is clear: if you have a round one pound coin sitting at home or in your wallet, you need to spend it or return it to your bank before 15 October.
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