Arizona banks seek spare change during pandemic-related coin shortage
PHOENIX – In the midst of a coronavirus-related national coin shortage, Arizona’s banks are seeking your help.
“If you have spare change, we encourage Arizonans to check with their local bank to see if they are accepting rolled coins, use exact amounts when purchasing items, or deposit them in grocery store coin-cashing machines,” Paul Hickman, CEO & president of the Arizona Bankers Association, said Friday in a press release.
Coin circulation has plummeted due to a combination of factors, causing banks and businesses around the nation to run low on metallic money.
Shoppers are favoring credit or debit cards more than before, whether for convenience or over concerns about spreading COVID-19 through handling cash.
There isn’t an actual lack of coins in existence, Hickman said, it’s just that more change is sitting in piggy banks, jars and drawers than usual.
“In the beginning of 2020, more than 4 billion coins were deposited — or recirculated — each month,” Hickman said. “Those numbers dropped to less than 2 billion beginning in April.”
In what’s both a cause and effect of the coin shortage, more businesses are encouraging cashless transactions.
Retail giant Walmart and other stores have been asking customers to pay with cards or exact change, according to creditcards.com.
Kroger, the parent company of Fry’s Food Stores, has a program to load change onto customers’ loyalty cards in lieu of giving back coins, according to NPR.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell discussed the issue when asked about it during a congressional hearing in June.
“With the partial closure of the economy, the flow of funds through the economy has stopped,” he said.
“We are working with the Mint and the Reserve Banks and as the economy re-opens we are starting to see money move around again.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.