Coppers face axe: are one and two cent coins on the way out?

Group recommends doing away with coppers after successful trial

Could we be about to see the end of one and two cent coins? A new trial by the National Payments Plan suggests their days are numbered.

A trial run for rounding cash transactions to the nearest five cent amount took place last year in Wexford between September and November in Wexford. According to the National Payments Plan, the trial revealed widespread support among both consumers and retailers for the scheme, and the steering committee has recommended to the Minister of Finance that symmetrical rounding is rolled out nationally on a voluntary basis for both consumers and retailers.

“The results of the trial were clear. The answer from Wexford was a resounding ‘yes’. When ‘don’t knows’ are excluded, 85 per cent of consumers and 100 per cent of retailers surveyed believe rounding should be applied nationally,” said NPP programme manager Ronnie O’Toole.

He moved to reassure consumers worried that the move would lead to a rise in prices.

“Rounding only applies to total bills, not to the prices of individual goods. Quite simply, the price of almost all goods tracked over the nine weeks of the trial remained unchanged,” he said.

If Ireland chooses to adopt the rounding system, we will join five other EU member states, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Hungary, who have already put a similar system in place. Belgium, meanwhile, is currently in the process of adopting it.

The small denomination coins cost more to mint than their face value, and carry a higher cost to the Central Bank due to transport and storage. They also go out of circulation quickly due to stockpiling.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist