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FMI, NGA Ask Treasury Department to Help Reinvigorate U.S. Coin Circulation

Letter brings attention to consumers who rely on cash transactions
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
FMI, NGA Ask Treasury Department to Help Reinvigorate U.S. Coin Circulation
FMI and NGA are among the groups asking the U.S. Treasury Department for help to get more coin moving.

FMI - the Food Industry Association and the National Grocers Association have joined other retail industry organizations and financial institutions to call upon the U.S. Treasury Department to help bring attention to the need for increased coin circulation. In a letter to Secretary Janet Yellen, the groups explain that they are “trying to meet the demand for coins and ultimately help consumers who rely on cash transactions in their daily lives.” 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the United States has faced coin circulation challenges due to an overwhelming shift to online and card-based payments. According to FMI, much of the $48.5 billion in coin that is currently in circulation is sitting dormant inside America’s 128 million households. 

“For the food industry, this coin supply disruption affects a grocer’s ability to complete cash transactions because they lack sufficient coin to make change at check out,” said Christine Pollack, VP of government relations at FMI. “This significantly limits the ability of millions of cash-reliant and cash-preferring grocery customers to buy necessary goods and services.” 

Coin circulation improved in late 2020 and early 2021, causing the Federal Reserve to lift its restrictions on coin orders by financial institutions, according to the letter. Circulation has again slowed, however, causing issues for both retailers and consumers. 

“The consequences of a coin circulation slowdown fall hardest on consumers that do not have the ability to pay electronically,” the joint letter reads. “If retailers are not able to offer change for cash purchases consumers who rely on cash will be vulnerable.” 

The letter asks the Treasury Department to use its resources and communication channels to help sway consumers to get more coin moving within the economy, and also to help amplify the messaging of the U.S. Coin Task Force, of which FMI is a founding member.  

The task force also includes Walmart and banking/currency organizations such as the American Bankers’ Association, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Coinstar, among others. The U.S. government also takes part, through representatives from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System.

The group dubbed last October “Get Coin Moving” Month, and members developed toolkits, customizable signage and social media graphics for retailers and financial institutions. Consumers have also been encouraged to use exact change when making cash purchases, and also deposit coins at their financial institution or redeem them at a coin kiosk.

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