Finextra News: The pound will not be round, or maybe around, for much longer

28th March 2017
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As the new 12-sided £1 coin enters circulation, a survey shows that a third of Brits think that cash will be obsolete within just three years.

The Royal Mint is giving the £1 coin its first makeover in more than 30 years, introducing a raft of security features designed to flummox counterfeiters. On its promotional page, the Mint declares that the “pound won’t be round for much longer” but a WorldPay survey suggests many people think it will also not be around.

Of 2500 Brits quizzed, a third think cash will be obsolete by 2020. Previous research, carried out by the Mayor of London’s PR company, London & Partners, found that 68% of people think that cashless technologies will completely replace physical money by 2036.

A quarter of respondents to the Worldpay survey say that they have stopped using shops that do not take cards, while nearly two thirds of 24 to 34 year olds prefer not to have to carry cash. Looking further ahead, more than half expect their phones to replace their cards as the main method of payment within five years.

James Frost, UK CMO, Worldpay, says: “Consumers have long been turning away from cash. In 2005 notes and coins made up 64% of all payments in the UK; ten years later this had fallen to just 45%. By 2025, barely eight years into the life of the new pound coin, it’s estimated that cash will account for barely a quarter of transactions.”

Meanwhile, Mastercard has been crunching some £1 numbers. About one in 30 £1 coins in circulation is a counterfeit, meaning that there are 30 million fakes out there, which if you piled up on top of each other would be 94,500 meters tall.

And this year, the Mint will produce 1.5 billion of the new coins, equating to the weight of more than 4,000 elephants.