Fed Coin Shortage
I was just in my local Meijer store yesterday and saw first hand that indeed all the self checkout lanes are now electronic payment only, no cash accepted because no change can be given. If you wanted to pay with cash, or do anything that resulted in being paid money back, you had to use a checkout lane with a real person.
As a result of Covid-19 I had started using the self checkout as this seemed like the most polite thing to do for the staff working. However, at any other time I always flatly refused, even if it meant walking out without making a purchase because no real checkout lanes were open. I see the self checkouts as about the most direct way I can help put my neighbors out of work. Based on yesterday’s experience with the self checkouts closed to cash I would say a lot of people still use cash, and the store is going to have to hire more checkout people if this continues. The lines at the 2 lanes open were quite long! Meanwhile during a significant portion of the time I was standing in line the self checks were being used by no one!
There’s probably a business opportunity here for someone like Coin Star to load an anonymous debit card with cash. Just insert coins or bills into a machine and it puts that amount (minus processing fee) onto a debit card.
Some folks may find this of interest (re: Coinstar)
Once it counts the coins, it gives you a total. This is after the 11.9% fee is taken out. You can choose to get paid with cash, get a gift card to certain store (see below), or donate to a charity. If you select cash, that’s when the fee is taken out. If you choose the other two, no fee is taken from your coin amount.
More details here: https://www.debtroundup.com/avoid-coinstar-processing-fee/ or also at: https://www.coinstar.com/
My local bank has a machine, no fee for account holders. I’ll still sell my rolled quarters for 20 bucks a roll if the mint gets hard-up.
DennisC – Thanks for the info. I’ve never used Coinstar so I wasn’t aware how steep the fee is. Yes, banks and credit unions may offer a better option.
My local gas station did say they were buying coins, with the balance put on gift cards for the gas station chain.
If this turns out to be something more significant than advertised, holding on to coins (even base metal ones) may be prudent. My jar of spare change can continue to sit on the shelf for now… I’m in no hurry to use it up.
A point I want to emphasize is cash keeps trades anonymous. It helps protect our privacy and freedom. If we can use anonymous debit cards or gift cards, that goes a long way to keeping that benefit of cash in play. If the cards are not anonymous, we lose that benefit.
If you read some of the papers published over the last few years, from WSJ editorials to econ journal papers out of Harvard, the refrain is cash is the refuge of scoundrels (drug dealers etc.). From a persuasion standpoint, that never needs to be proven, just repeated until people accept it as true without questioning it. On that ground, I think we still have a way to go, so that buys us time. But the excuse of a pandemic may be used to rationalize a very sudden fast shift away from cash.
The other development may be national-level cryptocurrency issued by central banks. The plan (if there is one) may be to use that as part of the forced transition. My understanding is the US is not close to having something usable — yet.
Starting to see these signs around Vegas now. What’s next..No $1’s or $5’s?
On the flip side people are leaving their coins from cashing in their slot machine tickets/vouchers in the trays in the casinos due to fear of it being contaminated.