Three issues ago Coinslot reported claims that versions of the new £1 trial coins and subsequent variations of the circulation coin differed in specification. While more facts have emerged, The Mint remains firm that all new £1 coins are the same.
Operators and manufacturers are still attempting to figure out issues surrounding the new £1 coin, with data from Instance Automatics showing three separate batches of the coin with three different specifications.
Other manufacturers have also been conducting their own research, including Richard Pike, technical manager at Northern Leisure Group, who has been experimenting with coin mechs.
“It would appear on the face of it that there were some differences between the trial pieces that were issued by the Mint, and the 2016 minted coins, and even the 2017 minted coins,” he explained. “In our experience, coin mechs that have been programmed using the trial pieces will take some, but not all of the 2016 coins, and will take none of the 2017 coins.”
On deadline day Pike went to the bank in Leeds and got 40 circulation pound coins to test.
“I put them into coin mechs programmed with the trial pieces and the acceptance was about 75 percent,” he added. After testing mechs configured using the trial coins, Pike moved onto using circulation coins as a measure. “We then started programming with circulation coins and found that mechs programmed with 2016 coins will take some, but not all, of the 2017 coins,” he commented, continuing to outline another piece of evidence. “A customer in Scarborough sent me a batch of 20 coins, and after programming the mech with the 40 coins I got from the Leeds bank, a test took 25 percent of them. I started mixing and matching to try and get the best fit.”
Pike then explained how later that evening his son came to visit, bringing with him a couple of new pound coins in spare change. Curious to see how these ‘coins in the wild’ would respond to his mech adaptations, Pike tested his son’s change in the office the next day.
“Every single coin mech rejected it,” he revealed. “So I then tried all my 60 coins that I had previously, and the mech took all of those, but still rejected the coins I received from my son. There’s clearly some differences within the coins, and I don’t think we’re seeing the edge of the woods yet.”
Operators such as Chris Dicker at Machine Services echoed the concerns of Pike, however he also had different worries. “I’ve been told the coin has now changed completely with the metal content of it, because they found the coin was wearing,” he said. “How much that affects the electronic picture of it I don’t know, so I think The Mint could have been a bit more helpful in clearing this up.”
Indeed, Dicker believes that more thought needs to be put into even the slightest of changes to currency. “As we know The Mint love dishing out all these new coins,” he continued, “but any design can alter the specifications, even only fractionally, and I don’t think they realise how critical that is on the coin mechs.”
Responding to Coinslot’s investigations into these claims, Scott Kuperus, The Royal Mint’s currency security expert and technical manager for the £1 coin, said: “Since the announcement of the new £1 coin in Budget 2014, The Royal Mint and HM Treasury have been engaging and consulting with members of the cash handling and vending industries in order to prepare them for the introduction of the new coin.
“Over 200,000 trial samples of the new £1 coin were supplied to manufacturers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders for the purposes of calibrating or upgrading coin handling equipment ahead of its introduction, and production coins were also issued in order to provide additional assurance.
“We can confirm that the specification and metal composition of the trial pieces are the same as the new £1 coins launched into circulation from 28 March”