It's Time To Cash In!

Coin task force urges Americans to put coin to use

ICBA Newswatch Today – July 24, 2020

The U.S. Coin Task Force encouraged the American public to help improve coin circulation, which has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 The task force, a Federal Reserve initiative on which ICBA serves, urges consumers to spend, deposit, and redeem their dormant coin. It also encouraged use of the #getcoinmoving hashtag on social media to promote awareness.

 The U.S. Mint recently issued a separate statement urging consumers to pay with exact change and return spare change to circulation, noting that cash is the only form of payment for millions of Americans.

U.S. Mint asks Americans to 'start spending their coins' to help with coin shortage spurred by COVID-19

Kelly Tyko

The U.S. Mint is asking for help solve the nationwide coin shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 shortage of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters led the Federal Reserve to start rationing coins in June, and banks have been begging customers to break out their piggy banks to pump more coins into circulation.

Because of the currency deficit, more retailers and restaurants are urging consumers to pay with cards or exact change, and some temporarily are either not giving change or, instead, offering the difference on loyalty cards.

Now, the Mint, which manufactures the nation's coin supply, is encouraging consumers to "start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk."

"Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and small businesses to accept cash payments," the Mint said in a statement Thursday. "For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change."

The Mint says it has been operating at "full production capacity since mid-June, minting almost 1.6 billion coins during the month of June" and expects to produce 1.65 billion coins per month for the rest of the year. In 2019, it produced an average of 1 billion coins per month.

Since March, many businesses and experts have encouraged consumers to use contactless payment systems because of concerns about the potential spread of the viral infection via cash and credit cards changing hands.  Several retailers, including Walmart, have converted some self-checkout registers to card-only.

"We’re asking customers to pay with card or use correct change when possible if they need to pay with cash," Walmart spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said in a statement to USA TODAY, noting cash is still welcome.

At select Target stores, shoppers are being asked to use "exact change or alternative payment, if they’re able," spokeswoman Danielle Schumann said.

Other stores, such as Kroger and Stop & Shop, are suggesting that customers paying with cash should round up their total, with the difference donated to a charitable cause. Kroger also is loading change onto a customer's loyalty card so the shopper can use that extra change on the card during their next trip. 

The finance culture has been discounting the importance of coins for years, even as they have continued to play a role in many aspects of day-to-day life.  Yet while some coin slots have been swapped out for card readers –such as on soda and snack machines, parking meters and even slot machines – coins are still king at many locally owned smaller businesses, such as laundromats.

You can help get coins back into circulation by bringing your rolled coin into your local Bank of the Pacific Branch.  We will provide coin wrappers upon request.  Rolled coins can be exchanged for currency or deposited directly into your account.