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Dublin: 4 °C Wednesday 11 December, 2019
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Is this the end of one and two cent coins?

The county of Wexford may hold the answer.

Image: Euro coins via Shutterstock

THE COUNTY OF Wexford may have just eliminated the one and two cent coin from Irish pockets.

The county has been home to an experiment in rounding up and down since November. Under the scheme, prices for cash transactions were rounded to the nearest five cent.

Individual items could stay priced as they were, but totals would be rounded up or down.

The National Payments Plan, a branch of the Central Bank, says that the experiment has gone well.

“The results of the Trial were clear,” says NPP Programme Manager Ronnie O’Toole.

The answer from Wexford was a resounding yes.

“When don’t knows are excluded, 85% of consumers and 100% of retailers surveyed believe rounding should be applied nationally.”

Five EU Member States have already adopted a symmetrical rounding policy; The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Hungary, while Belgium is currently in the process of adopting it.

Consumers expressed fears before the trial that the experiment could lead to retailers rounding prices up. However, that has not proven to be the case, mystery shoppers have found.

While the government cannot, under EU law, stop the minting of the coins, rounding means that far fewer would be needed.

The Central Bank mints many more of these small denomination coins than other coins, but they go out of circulation quickly because of stockpiling and shops constantly need fresh supplies for change.

The average cost of producing the coins exceeds their face value, with a 1c coin costing approximately 1.3c to mint. There are also significant costs associated with the transport and storage of the coins in the economy.

Chairman of the NPP, Tony Grimes, said that they were recommending the adoption of the system across the country.

“On the basis of the successful Trial, the NPP Steering Committee has now recommended to the Minister of Finance that symmetrical rounding is rolled out nationally, and that it is run on a voluntary basis for both consumers and retailers.

“This report can help inform the Minister’s decision on a national rollout.”

Read: Could Ireland ever abandon the 1c and 2c coins?

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