U.K. unveils new pound coin to fight fraud

uk pound coin 2
The new £1 coin is set to go into circulation in the U.K. in 2017.

The U.K. has unveiled a new 12-sided pound coin that is being hailed as the most secure coin in the world.

The Royal Mint will begin replacing existing round £1 coins in 2017 in a bid to stamp out fraud. It estimates that 3% of £1 coins -- or nearly £46 million ($76 million) -- are fakes.

But it's not just criminals who will find life harder after the switch. Retailers, vending machine operators and other small firms could face costs to alter coin slots.

"We do have concerns about the extra costs of introducing a new pound coin. For example, small firms may have to pay out to replace machinery," said John Allan, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

But he also noted that these same firms tend to suffer the most from unknowingly accepting counterfeit currencies.

Related: Plastic cash is coming to the U.K.

Officials will hold a public consultation later this year to try to reduce the impact on business.

The Mint says the coins will make use of new security features already used in bills to keep criminals at bay.

"It is the first time that this existing security has been successfully embedded into coins," it said in a statement.

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The new coin, which will be made with two metals, was designed to look like the old threepence piece. The current £1 coin was introduced 30 years ago.

Related: Jane Austen's face will be on the new £10 note

The U.K. has taken other steps to protect its currency from counterfeiters. The Bank of England said in December it would start issuing plastic banknotes in 2016.

The new polymer notes are expected to be cleaner, more secure and more durable than their old paper counterparts.

More than 25 countries already use these high tech polymer banknotes, including Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore and Canada.

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