Sunday 25 February 2018

Rounding bills to nearest 5c could spell end for our smallest coins

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

THOUSANDS of cash transactions are being rounded up and down in a town each week to see if one and two cent coins can be done away with.

Research has shown that 61pc of people in Wexford stockpile 1c and 2c coins at home and only four in 10 use them for day-to-day transactions, the Central Bank said yesterday.

The town is entering the final weeks of a pilot scheme to see how consumers and retailers respond to rounding shopping bills up or down to the nearest five cent to avoid the need for producing very small change.

The Central Bank mints more 1c and 2c coins than any others, but they go out of circulation quickly because people stockpile them, while shops constantly need fresh supplies for change.

Ronnie O'Toole, the programme manager of the Central Bank's National Payments Plan, said this was a waste of money as 1c coins cost 1.7c each to produce.

The Government will decide whether to roll out rounding up or down nationwide based on the results of the trial, which has been running since last month.

The response in Wexford was strong, with more than 250 businesses participating and thousands of rounding transactions every week.

There was virtually no consumer resistance to rounding, though some people expressed concern that charities might lose out if people no longer had small change to give. Awareness of the pilot scheme was high, at 84pc.

INSIGHTS

Mr O'Toole said: "The trial has thrown up lots of interesting insights, including how retailers are managing the rounding concept, what system changes they may have needed to make to apply rounding, how this is communicated to customers and resulting consumer behaviour."

Transactions are rounded on the total bill for cash payments rather than on each individual item, so a bill for €10.21 becomes €10.20 while €10.23 becomes €10.25.

Mr O'Toole appealed for one last push during the final weeks of the trial.

Irish Independent

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