Author Mark Fairlie
On Sunday, October 15th, the current circular version of the £1 coin ceases to be legal tender meaning that you can no longer use them when you’re buying something in the shops.
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), the UK trading body representing over 170,000 UK companies has urged its members to continue accepting the old £1 coin past the October 15th date. Speaking to the Telegraph, a spokesperson said “It would help if small firms knew they were allowed a short transition period to collect the old coins if they wish to and are willing to bank them, but not give out to customers. This would provide a useful community service, allowing customers a few weeks to get rid of the final few pound coins in circulation.”
And the FSB is the only retail rebellers. The Association of Convenience Stores and the managing director of Poundland are also promising to help customers by accepting the old £1 coins past the legal tender date.
What’s the story behind the change and what should consumers and businesses expect?
The £1 coin
The £1 coin was introduced to Britain on 21st April 1983 as the old £1 note was completely phased out of existence.
The current coin has fallen victim to not its own success, however, but the success of counterfeiters. In 2011, 3.09% of coins in circulation were estimated to be counterfeit, according to Business Report. Coin testing companies thought this estimate an understatement, believing the number to be double that, reported BBC News Online. TV series, Fake Britain, withdrew £1,000 in £1 coins from five high street banks and were passed between 32 and 38 counterfeits.
Something had to change and it was the coin itself – it was replaced with a new 12-sided bimetallic pound coin launched to the public on 28th March 2017.
The new coins have been made significantly more difficult to forge and include some of the following security features:
- A holographic type effect which changes the £ symbol at the bottom of the coin into a “1” depending on the angle you’re viewing the coin from,
- Grooves on alternate sides
- Made from two different metals
- Very small lettering on the lower inside rim of the coin.
Replacing the £1 coin
— The Royal Mint (@RoyalMintUK) October 8, 2017
The Telegraph reports that many of the railway companies, including South, Great Northern, Gatwick Express, and Thameslink, had not update all of their ticket machines and that they would not be ready in time for the deadline date.
It’s no wonder consumers are confused about what will happen to their old £1 coins after the changeover date.
According to the Post Office, as reported in Manchester Evening News, customers can deposit old £1 coins into their bank accounts at any post office “until further notice”.
The paper also reported that Barclays will continue to accept the old coins although
“we would recommend that customers allow sufficient time to return old coins rather than leave it until legal tender status is withdrawn”.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, RBS, NatWest, Santander, Nationwide Building Society, and Lloyd’s Bank Group (including the Halifax) will also continue to accept old pounds coins as deposits.