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U.S. Coin Task Force Initial Report and Recommendations

July 31, 2020

The U.S. Coin Task Force was convened in July 2020 and charged with identifying, refining and promoting strategies to resolve the coin supply chain issues resulting from COVID-19-related disruptions to normal coin circulation. At the conclusion of its initial work, the U.S. Coin Task Force has:

  • Issued a public call to action. The Task Force’s public statement aligns with the recent United States Mint statement (Off-site) and highlights the real risk that businesses will be unable to complete cash transactions if they do not have sufficient coin to make change. This could potentially limit the ability of millions of cash-reliant and cash-preferring Americans to buy necessary goods and services. To mitigate this risk, the U.S. Coin Task Force has urged all Americans to return their spare change to circulation by using it for retail transactions, depositing it with financial institutions, and/or redeeming it at coin recycling kiosks.
  • Identified a number of sources of friction that prevent the smooth functioning of the coin supply chain. Task Force members explored why circulation was disrupted by the pandemic and what factors might prolong this disruption. Identifying a number of considerations, Task Force members articulated friction points throughout the supply chain, starting with the consumer redemption of coin. For example, as financial institutions have limited access to their lobbies, it has become more difficult for consumers and small businesses to deposit their coin. The Task Force identified challenges for industry acceptance of coin, such as the fact that some financial institutions do not have the capability of handling an uptick in coin deposits to their branches. The Task Force also explored impediments to the industry in managing coin inventories, for instance when coin is packaged differently than users might demand. Across the supply chain, the lack of reliable, timely, automated information about coin holdings further complicates inventory management.
  • Developed preliminary recommendations that the coin supply chain can adopt to help resolve the issue. Having identified bottlenecks among consumers, retailers, armored carriers and financial institutions, the Task Force developed preliminary recommendations, including:
    • Developing materials to encourage consumer-facing campaigns to both promote awareness of the need for coin recirculation and develop ideas to encourage consumers to act. One idea, for example, is providing parents with materials to use coin gathering and depositing as “teachable moments” with children of various ages.
    • Preparing best practices for financial institutions and retailers to get coin from consumers and recirculated through the supply chain via their armored carriers; and
    • Producing toolkits and guidelines for supply chain participants (financial institutions, retailers, consumers and other coin handlers) to reduce the most critical industry-specific points of friction. For example, financial institutions that are not equipped to accept large scale loose deposits of coin by consumers could provide coin rolling kits free of charge to their customers.
  • Determined that the U.S. Coin Task Force should complete an additional sprint of work in order to build out toolkits that will facilitate more expedient and consistent adoption of the Task Force’s recommendations. The U.S. Coin Task Force will continue its work through the month of August to develop materials for use in public campaigns as well as for use by retailers, financial institutions and armored carriers.

For reference, this illustration1 offers a stylized view of U.S. coin circulation. It should be noted that the size of the various arrows do not reflect the relative size of the supply and demand. For example, the United States Mint’s production usually accounts for roughly 20% of the coins that the Federal Reserve pays to circulation, while recirculated coins make up the balance. Additionally, this visualization does not show changes in the pace of coin circulation or reflect areas where coin may currently be pooling (e.g., with consumers and in shuttered businesses) rather than returning to circulation.

PRODUCTION and CIRCULATION of COINS

The U.S. Coin Task Force includes representatives from key segments of the coin supply chain and looks forward to reporting on its continued progress in early September.

Footnote

1Source: United States Mint

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