Royal Mint/Getty Images

The Treasury has told UK businesses to prepare for the launch of the new pound coin, which is set to arrive in March 2017.

The government has warned all cash-handling retailers and vending machine operators to adapt their equipment and train their staff in preparation for the coin’s launch. Businesses will have a six-month transitional period in which both old and new coins will be accepted, before the old coin is entirely phased out.

The new coin will have 12 sides and is said to be harder to copy than the current model. The government announced their intention to introduce a new “highly secure” coin in 2014, after it was found that one in 30 £1 coins currently in circulation are fake.

Monday marked the launch of an awareness campaign by the Royal Mint, designed to educate British businesses on ‘the most secure coin in the world’. The coin will have a ‘distinctive shape’ making it ‘instantly recognisable’, a hologram-like image that that changes from a ‘£’ symbol to the number ‘1’ and a ‘hidden’ high security feature built into the coin to protect it from counterfeiting in the future.

David Gauke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The pound as we know it will not be round for much longer. The introduction of this new £1 coin will be a highly significant event and we are working with the Royal Mint to ensure key industries are ready and to ensure a smooth transition.

“The new £1 coin will be the most secure of its kind in the world and its cutting-edge features will present a significant barrier to counterfeiters, reducing the cost to businesses and the taxpayer.”

The dimensions of the coin have changed, meaning all machines accepting coins will have to be upgraded. The new coin will be 2.8mm in diameter and will weigh 8.75g, making it thinner and lighter than the current round £1 coin.