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Thumbs Up For Currency
November 05, 2007

The Touch of Money

Currency has really taken a beating during the course of my lifetime. Used to be that cash and checks were about all people ever paid a debt with, but now we have so many new options that cash seems our last resort. It's like those commercials where everything is running smoothly until a customer tries to pay with coins and banknotes thereby gumming up the works. For Internet transactions we pay by PayPal or credit card, for bills many Banks have electronic payment systems, for brick and mortar store shopping we pay by debit card and soon things may become even quicker and more personal.

Fox News has reported that Shell gas stations in the Chicago area are testing out a new system, which allows customers to pay for their gas by fingerprint. Yes, that's right, just touch your finger to a panel and away you go. These are the kind of things we used to see in the James Bond movies, but now, in looking for a leg up on the competition, Shell is trying them out to provide faster service for customers whose time really is money.

Security, with built in ease of use, is another plus to the fingerprint as currency transactor. You always have your fingers with you. There's no pin number or access code to remember. No metallic strip to wear down and virtually impossible to forge, unless you are Tom Cruise and the Mission Impossible crew. It's unlikely that you would misplace your fingers, or leave it them your other coat pocket at home and with your fingers on hand; you'd never be two cents short at the Post Office.

But still, we collectors would miss the pleasure of using coins in daily transactions, checking dates in your pocket change, scanning banknotes for unusual serial numbers, watching for star notes or looking for varieties in coin designs. I hope currency sticks with us, at least through my lifetime, but I'll keep my thumb and fingers handy just in case.

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About the Author
Tom Michael has been Krause Publications primary market analyst on more than 80 world and United States coin catalogs produced over the last 20 years. He came to KP in 1987 with a bachelor of arts degree in history, a master of arts degree in economics and a history of coin collecting stretching back to the 1960s. He began collecting world coins as a child by asking friends and relatives to bring coins back from overseas trips, visiting flea markets and having his mother watch for foreign coins in her register at the local grocery store. Today he works with a dedicated base of over 200 contributors to provide accurate market values for the five-volume Standard Catalog of World Coins series, as well as many specialty catalogs, including Coins & Currency of the Middle East and the fifth edition of Unusual World Coins.

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