Counterfeit-proof £1 coin replaces old round pound in circulation - but are businesses ready?
BUSINESSES in the north have been urged to ensure they are "acutely prepared" to cater for the new counterfeit-proof one pound coin when it becomes the only legal tender in town after October 15.
British Treasury secretary Andrew Jones insisted that firms have been given a "three-year window" to realign their operators to facilitate the 12-sided coin design.
"Businesses who have not yet upgraded their equipment have had plenty of warning, and they've less than 100 days to get their houses in order before the deadline," he said.
The Harrogate and Knaresborough (North Yorkshire) MP was speaking during a visit to a high-security coin storage facility in Belfast.
More than £350,000 worth of coins are processed and redistributed daily to banks and businesses across Northern Ireland from the location in Mallusk.
A press conference was held in a special bunker where single hoppers process and bag 75,000 shiny new pound coins for distribution via G4S Security.
Mr Jones' visit coincided with the innovative 12-sided quid introduced on March 28 has officially become more common than its round predecessor.
And he told the Irish News that the new coin has already stumped counterfeiters, with no evidence so far that its unique design can be faked.
"There have been no problems identified at all so far," he said.
"We know that around three in every one hundred of the old pound coins in circulation were fake, which was costing £50 million.
"The Royal Mint monitors the UK's coins very carefully, but we have had no incidents at all of counterfeiting so far.
"This is a very, very secure coin, probably the most secure coin in the world at the moment, and they have their own individual and secret method of security around it.
"You have to stay one step ahead of the counterfeiters - and that's exactly where we are right now."
In Northern Ireland, the coins replacement process has already gone beyond the halfway point, but Mr Jones urged people to bank, spend or donate their old pounds before the October 15 deadline.
"To have more new coins in circulation than old at this point is great news, but with less than 100 days to go, the clock is ticking," he said.
Chief executive and deputy master of the Royal Mint Adam Lawrence said: "The Royal Mint is very proud to have delivered the new 12-sided £1 coin and ensuring a smooth transition is now our top priority.
"We hope our announcement about the changeover point in July will encourage those businesses who have not yet upgraded their equipment to do so ahead of the October 15 deadline."