The United States Mint recently shared a summary of the feedback received at a coin industry stakeholder meeting held on March 13, 2014. The invitation only meeting was held for the purpose of seeking direct, first hand input on the impacts of alternative metal compositions for circulating coinage from interested members of of businesses, industries, and agencies.
Under the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, the Mint has been conducting research and development activities on alternative metal compositions for circulating coins. The Act requires the Mint to provide biennial reports to Congress which include an analysis of the production costs for each circulating coin, the findings of an alternative metals study, and the Mint’s recommendations with regards to potential changes in coin composition. The first required report delivered in December 2012 indicated that additional time was required before any recommendations could be made. The next report is due to Congress in December 2014.
The summary of themes from the feedback received at the March 13 stakeholder meeting was as follows:
- A change to the diameter or thickness of U.S. coins would have a significant negative impact.
- The quarter-dollar coin is the workhorse of circulating coins. Across stakeholders, any change to the quarter-dollar coin would bring about the most costly conversion to a new alternative metal quarter-dollar coin.
- Aluminum alloy coins do not perform well at high speeds and high pressures of coin sorting and handling equipment.
- A generous amount of communication and education is both needed and expected before implementing the use of alternative materials for the nation’s circulating coins.Show citation box
- If new coin handling equipment or software is needed, manufacturers of coin handling equipment need six to 12 months with production sample coins before they can begin shipping the new updated equipment to end users.
- The transition period for end users to implement an alternative material coin should be at least 18 months from the date the alternative material coin is announced and before it is put into circulation.
- The total time period needed for a smooth transition is 18 to 30 months.
The United States Mint assessment to date has removed from consideration aluminum alloy metals for alternative circulating coin compositions.
The Mint is now seeking additional electronic or written comments from stakeholders to supplement information gathered at the meeting. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the following factors:
- Costs to convert to circulating coins composed of alternate metals given possible changes to weight, electromagnetic signature, and visual changes, such as color and relief.
- Transition time needed to introduce a circulating coin composed of an alternative metal.
- Comments on how best to inform and educate both affected industries and the public on changes to circulating coins.
- Environmental impact from the use of circulating coins composed of alternative metals.
- Other issues of importance not identified above.
Separately, the Mint has also indicated their intention to use opinion surveys and focus group interviews to gather the public’s views on circulating coins. The Mint will use these methods to understand the public perception of potential changes to the characteristics of circulating coins due to alternative metal compositions and understand consumer behavior and their actions regarding the use of coins, especially the cent.