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End of Coins at Credit Union or End of Coins?
March 22, 2010

It is time to reopen the topic of the future of coins again as I received an e-mail from a reader.

Though he wishes to remain anonymous, he did want to share the information that the El Paso Employees Federal Credit Union will not receive or give out coins as of the end of 2010.

Will this prove to be a one-time event, or will other financial institutions also decide that handling coins is a waste of employee time and money?

Unless provision of coins is done on an industrial scale with major retail customers, many institutions could theoretically follow this example.

Where the line is between economical handling of coins and expensive hassle happens to be, I don’t know. Certainly in small towns like Iola, somebody has to make sure there are coins in the till – at least until retail businesses decide to abandon coins as well.

Great Britain is bubbling with the news that its banks want to abandon checks in 2018. What I have seen includes speculation as to how this will restrict the independence of the elderly, who depend on checks.

It may be simply a matter of technology and habit that will spell the end of coinage, but perhaps American antipathy to high denomination coins actually will hasten the day of demise as everyone realizes the low dollar value of a coinage system that is comprised of cents, nickels, dimes and quarters.

Sure, the halves and dollars exist, but if few individuals use them, they might as well not.

This credit union decision bears watching. It might signal a new trend.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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