The shape of today’s pound coin has remained the same for over 30 years, which helps to explain why there is some £45m worth of counterfeit pound coins in circulation today. Fraudsters have become adept at producing high-quality counterfeits, which are increasingly difficult to detect.
To protect the integrity of the currency, from March 2017 the Royal Mint will introduce a new 12-sided, bi-metallic, bi-colour pound coin that incorporates anti-counterfeiting technology. While the Royal Mint expects the new features to safeguard the coin against counterfeiting, it will come at a considerable cost to retailers, gyms, sports centres and other businesses that will have to upgrade or replace coin-operated equipment.
Many sports centres use coin-operated lockers in their changing areas today. Typically these take a one-pound coin to release a key, which is returned to the user when they collect their kit. The compatibility of the new pound coin with existing locks depends on the type of mechanism. While the new coin is roughly the same diameter as the current coin, its shape, weight and thickness are different – all features that affect the extent of the upgrade required.
The British Parking association claims that its members will have to spend around £50m to upgrade parking machines to take the new coins. Many are opting to go “cashless”, ditching coins for mobile apps and cards to future-proof their machines.
We expect to see sports centres and gyms follow the parking industry’s move away from coins. Gym operators are switching from coins today – even before any upgrade is required – because they are looking for a more convenient locker solution for their users and staff. For example, installing keypad lockers means that users don’t have to worry about having change on them, nor do they need to carry a key or wear a wristband while using the facilities. It means no more lost keys and no overnight “locker-hogging”, as staff can easily clear the lockers at the end of the day using a master code.
For those considering high-tech alternatives to coin-operated lockers, as well as digital keypad locks, there are affordable card-based solutions, and locks that facility managers and staff can program and manage using their smart phones.
The current pound coin will be “demonetised” in the second half of 2017, following a period of just six months of co-circulation with the new coin. Lock suppliers are encouraging their customers to plan well ahead for the upgrade process, as demand for new coin locks will be significant. Of course, those switching to keypad locks don’t have to wait for the introduction of the new coin, and can beat the rush by changing their locks now.
There is some good news for operators who choose to stick with coins and upgrade their existing lockers; the Royal Mint expects the new pound coin to be around for the next 30 years.
If you are interested in upgrading your changing room, you can view our full range of coin-less and keyless locks here.