As the nation enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing challenges to the nation’s coin circulation continue to negatively impact food retailers that rely on cash transactions to conduct business and consumers’ access to the legal tender they need to purchase food and household items.
The U.S. Coin Task Force recently issued its report, “The State of Coin,” to educate stakeholders, policymakers and the public on the causes and impacts of coin circulation disruptions and coin industry actions taken to address these disruptions.
FMI serves on its task force, which was established during the height of the pandemic to raise public awareness of coin circulation issues across the country. The task force is led by the Federal Reserve System and includes membership from the U.S. Mint and banking, armored car and retail industries.
Due to the pandemic, much of the $48.5 billion already in circulation is sitting dormant inside America’s 128 million households. As people have changed their spending habits through increased card transactions and contactless payments, both the business community and consumers are struggling to get the change they need to make cash transactions.
“For the food industry, this supply disruption affects a grocer’s ability to complete cash transactions because they lack sufficient coin to make change at check out. This significantly limits the ability of millions of cash-reliant and cash-preferring Americans to buy necessary goods and services,” said Christine Pollack, VP of government relations for FMI and U.S. Coin Task Force member. “The sizable increase in card transactions has also meant that food retailers are paying even more in swipe fees than before the public health crisis, which were already some of the highest in the world and now amount to $110 billion annually in the United States.
“Returning coins into circulation can make a meaningful difference for those who depend on them the most – Americans without access to banking services and businesses that need coins to serve their cash-reliant customers. By exploring the causes of the disruptions to the supply chain, the U.S. Coin Task Force report is an important first step in identifying solutions to get coin moving again.”
The full report is available for download here.