ONE AND TWO cent coins will be phased out of circulation over the coming months.
The Central Bank has taken over the project after the Government yesterday decided that in future, all cash transactions involving these coins will be either rounded up or rounded down.
The decision follows a successful trial carried out in Wexford in 2013. In that 85pc of consumers and 100pc of traders said in a survey they believed rounding should happen across the country.
The main factor in the decision was the cost of continually producing the coins which exceeded their face value, while the bulk of them were kept in jars by people who could not be bothered with them. A one cent coin costs €1.65 to produce while the two cent coin costs €1.94.
The Central Bank last night announced that the "rounding system" will be voluntary and details will be worked out with industry and traders' groups in the coming weeks. The entire process is expected to take a matter of months.
The coins will remain legal tender and the changes will only apply to cash transactions, while card and electronic transactions will not be affected.
The total amount of any bill will be rounded down or up to the nearest five cent. Several examples of how it will operate were offered by officials. A transaction costing €10.21 or €10.22 would be rounded to €10.20, while a transaction costing €10.23 or €10.24 would be rounded to €10.25.
Two individual items priced at €10.99 and €3.49 respectively would remain at these prices, though the total bill of €14.48 would be rounded up to €14.50.
Six EU countries already apply a "rounding" system. These are the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Hungary and Belgium.
So far 1.1 billion two-cent coins have been issued in Ireland and 1.4 billion one-cent coins had been issued.
In the run in to Christmas the Central Bank said it had issued proportionately three times the amount of these small coins compared to other countries using the euro.