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Australians dislike small change coins

 Small change denomination coins are not popular in Australia.

Small change denomination coins are not popular in Australia.

Small change coins may not be in short supply in Australia, but people willing to carry and spend them are.

A recently released survey of Australians conducted by the Amsterdam-based banking and financial services corporation ING Group indicates about one in four people dislike Australia’s two lowest denomination coins. The same survey indicates that about 11 percent of Australians dislike the lowly 5- and 10-cent coins sufficiently that they will actually toss the coins away.

It appears about $39 million (about US$30.3 million) or about $2.10 Australian per person in small change coins are being lost per month, according to ING.

The study involved 1,000 Australians. A surprising 93 percent of those surveyed admitted to throwing away some 5-cent and 29 percent admitted to throwing away some 10-cent coins. Thirty-six percent of those in the study said the most likely place to find loose change was on the street. Old bags, purses or wallets were other sources of loose change, according to 31 percent of those surveyed, with 26 percent saying loose change is most likely being found in washing machines.

ING spokesman Tim Newman was quoted in an Oct. 3 News Corp Australia Network article as saying, “Change is obviously of small denominations and quantities but it can add up quite quickly once you put it altogether. While in isolation it might seem a small amount of money that is quite worthless, if I go back to what people used to do and still do today they put that loose change in a big coin jar or into some sort of savings system.”

Consumer finance expert Heidi Armstrong added, “If you are loose with your coin – then stick to electronic purchases. The benefit is you always know where your money goes – and your financial institution keeps a record of this for you. The danger with using cash is – you don’t always know where it went.”

Armstrong failed to point out the danger with using electronic purchases rather than cash is privacy – that the government and private industry know exactly where your money went.

ING has conducted comparative international surveys. A February ING study indicated that while 27 percent of Australians said they either carried cash “not often” or “almost never,” only 10 percent of Germans surveyed agreed, but 34 percent of respondents in the United States did!

ING is conducting these surveys for a reason, and that reason isn’t to encourage the use of physical cash. ING recently announced it is offering its new “Every Day Round Up” digital savings tool through which a consumer’s debit or credit card purchases are rounded to the nearest $1 or $5 amount. The additional sums are placed into a savings account where that money can earn interest.

According to ING, customers debit transactions to their Orange Everyday account. The remaining money is deposited into either the ING Savings Maximizer or ING Savings Accelerator accounts. The amount of interest to be earned was not known at the time this article was being written.

In 1966 Australia introduced 1-, 2-, 5-, 10-, 20- and 50-cent coins when its currency became decimal-based. A circulating dollar coin followed in 1984, with a $2 coin in 1988. Two years later the 1- and 2-cent coins were discontinued, being withdrawn officially in 1992.

The 5-cent denomination was in danger of extinction in May 2007 as the copper and nickel in the coin rose sufficiently in value to make the coin worth about 6.5 cents as scrap. The value of copper and nickel declined again, and by October 2008 the scrap value of the coin was down to 2.7 cents or 54 percent of its face value. Surprisingly there were no reports of hoarding or melting of the coin during that period.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.

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