Ireland moves to scrap 1 and 2 cent coins

Cash transaction 'coin rounding' targets euro shrapnel

A handful of euro 1 cent coins

Ireland is moving to eliminate diminutive 1 and 2 euro cent coins with the introduction of "coin rounding", which will see cash transactions rounded up or down to the nearest 5 cents.

Following a successful 2013 trial in Wexford, the plan will roll out across the Emerald Isle on 28 October. Rounding is entirely voluntary, both for shoppers and retailers. The former will still be able to demand exact change, and the latter are under no obligation to participate. The coins will remain legal tender, the Irish Times notes.

The Central Bank's Ronnie O’Toole described the response to the initiative as "fantastic", adding: "We migrated to the euro ahead of most other countries, and the indications so far are that consumers and retailers alike will embrace rounding."

Ireland has apparently issued 2,454,465,931* 1 cent and 2 cent coins since embracing the euro, at a cost of €37m. Each bit of shrapnel hits the government in the pocket, since "a 1 cent coin costs 1.65 cent to produce while a 2 cent coin costs 1.94 cent.

The 1 and 2 cent coins have been a bother across Europe for years. Way back in 2004, Bloomberg reported on a grumbling French sandwich shop owner bemoaning the denominations.

Finland launched a pre-emptive strike on the offending coinage before adopting the euro in January 2002, by passing a law "that forced businesses to round prices up or down to the nearest five cents for all cash payments, and not give change with anything smaller than 5-cent coins". ®


*A fantastically precise figure. Sadly, the Irish Times does not supply an equally impressive total of those coins which are currently down the back of sofas.

Our Irish readers who do trawl some small change from their furniture are being asked to donate spare 1 and 2 cent coins to Change for Charity and Make-A-Wish.

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