How are Aussie kids going to feed their piggy banks in future?
It seems as though our changing shopping habits in the wake of the pandemic means the country’s low-value coins will soon go the way of the dodo.
The Royal Australian Mint says it is seeing “virtually no demand” for coins in 2020 as physical retail ground to a halt during the pandemic and digital transactions took hold.
Pandemic has merely hastened the inevitable demise
In truth, coins were already less sough-after prior to the pandemic, but COVID-19 has accelerated the process. In January this year, the national mint predicted the “graceful death” of 5 and 10 cent coins within the next decade, leaving the 20c coin as the lowest form of circulating currency.
According to the Chief Executive of the mint, Ross MacDiarmid, there had been a 53% drop in demand for coins between 2013 and 2019.
But the mint would normally have produced 15-million coins for Australian banks in the first six months of 2020. However, “there’s been virtually no sales for coins since the start of the year”, he told Guardian Australia.
Many people have stopped using cash completely
“During COVID, what has unquestionably occurred is that people have stopped using currency entirely, or reduced it significantly,” he said.
MacDiarmid believed that the extent to which the coronavirus had hastened uptake of digital spending, instead of cash, would depend how extensively fears of handling cash and the trend towards online shopping continued after the pandemic.
Much like the old 1c and 2c coins, phased out in the 1990s, MacDiarmid told ABC News in January that he expected the mint to eventually stop producing the coins completely.
But retailers could still accept the coins as valid currency
He believed the outgoing currency would not be demonetised, meaning shops would still have the option to accept the outdated denominations and citizens could return the coins to banks and receive compensation.
The 5 and 10c coins were introduced in 1966 as part of Australia’s conversion to decimal currency. Both reached their production peak in 2006, when a combined 463million pieces were minted, the ABC reported.
And if you do ultimately find yourself with some of those old, unwanted coins that aren’t even fit for the piggy bank, here are a few things you can use them for: to check if you have sufficient tread on your tyre; turn a coin on its side and use it to fluff-up a flattened carpet; weigh down your curtains with them so that they hang better; hang them on your tablecloths and fancy serviettes to stop them blowing away if you’re eating outside.