• Short Summary

    Britain began switching to decimal currency today (Monday Feb 15) and the first indications were that the change would go smoothly.

  • Description

    Britain began switching to decimal currency today (Monday Feb 15) and the first indications were that the change would go smoothly. In place of the shillings and pence which have been used for centuries, a brand-new set of coins go into circulation, smaller and lighter than the old pocket-sagging currency, and with different values.

    SYNOPSIS: Weeks of Government advertising in newspapers and on Television to prepare Britain for the long-awaited change to decimal currency were put to the test on Monday as Britain's shoppers and commuters were faced with the new unfamiliar coins for the first time. In the shops where the real problems were expected, business started slowly with everyone taking it easy changing from the old 240-penny pound to the new 100-penny pound. Most shoppers seemed to be taking the Decimal Currency Board's advice and offering cashiers large sums, leaving the counter staff to work out their change. The large supermarkets and stores are fully converted to decimal machines, but many smaller shops have been unable to afford the conversion.

    For centuries Britain has used its system of shillings and pence: twelve pennies in each shilling: twenty shillings in each pound. A system which has so often confused foreign visitors.

    The Banks reopened after a four-day closure for decimal changes in everyone's account, and although small queues built up in many branches, staff had little difficulty persuading customers to write decimalised cheques.

    From Monday, a brand-new set of coins go into circulation alongside the old ones. The new coins are smaller and lighter than the old currency and have different values.

    The new coins are ten, five, two, one and half-penny pieces.

    Some of Britain's public houses changed over on Sunday, but for most of the lunch-time customers Monday was their first experience of the new prices and new coins.

    Although the passing of Britain's archaic monetary system is regretted by many, it will be welcomed by businessmen as it will speed up calculations and make conversion into other currency easier. One effect of decimalisation is that it will speed up the financial transactions if Britain should succeed in its application to join the six-nation European Economic Community.

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    Reuters - Including Visnews
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