Cashless society almost a reality across the globe

Updated 2017-12-19 11:00:18 China Daily

The slow death of the humble coin has become a global phenomenon.

Smart cards and mobile payments are gradually moving the world toward a cashless society.

In 2011, the United States Mint suspended the production of Presidential Coins, "to reduce costs and improve efficiency," according to Tim Geithner, who was US treasury secretary at the time.

Gradually, coins and hard cash are losing their popularity in the world's largest economy.

Figures show that consumers there are turning away from cash payments when it comes to household bills and supermarket shopping.

Last year, only 24 percent polled by research and consultancy group Gallup Inc used cash to pay for major items compared to 36 percent in 2011.

"Most customers use e-payment systems like Venmo, Paypal or Apple Pay to handle their bills," said Lisa Whitson, a supermarket owner in Texas.

"Only those buying a few items tend to use paper currency or coins for payment, and the value is usually less than ," she added.

Shoppers in South Korea are also discarding their coins. A Bank of Korea survey showed that only 20 percent used cash for major items.

The trend has forced the country to cut back on coin production before taking them out of circulation by 2020.

South Korea is not alone in consigning its coins to history.

In 2012, Canada stopped minting 1 cent (0.79 US cents) coins, which had been around since 1858.

A major problem was that Canadian "pennies", as they were known, cost 1.6 cents to manufacture. The government expects to save C million (.6 million) a year by eliminating them.

"Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home," joked Jim Flaherty, a former Canadian finance minister. "We will, therefore, stop making them."

Australia is going down a similar route.

Ross MacDiarmid, head of the Royal Australian Mint, confirmed that the country's 5 cent (3.8 US cents) coins will disappear in the next five to 10 years.

"I think the 5 cent piece is almost dying a natural death," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"We have seen a halving of demand for 5 cent pieces over the past five years and our expectation is that it will just simply progress," he added. "It has lost its appeal."

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