Cashing in on loose change

May 19, 2019

Is your coin jar overflowing? Turn your coins into banknotes at the Monetary Authority’s coin carts and see how much money you can save by collecting loose change.


Mr Po and his son went to the coin cart with their toy safe. They saved $1,300 in six months.


“My kid puts the coins in the piggy bank for me. Many a little makes a mickle,” he said.


Mrs Tai brought a little bucket full of coins worth $3,080.


“We drop off a handful of coins when we get home every day, but we do not use them the next day.“


Collected coins are separated daily according to their denominations. Once the coins are transported to the bank, good quality ones go to retailers to be circulated in the market again.


Worn out, or damaged coins are returned to the authority which will send them to a mint in the UK or Canada to be melted and recycled.


Funny money 
The Monetary Authority started the Coin Collection Programme in 2014. Since then, it has collected about 400 million coins.


But not all items received by the coin carts are legal tender, such as citizens’ false teeth and rings.


Some of the coins come from the most unexpected places.


Monetary Authority Head of Currency & Settlement Division Lydia Yip said they once received about 100,000 $1 coins from a charity.


The charity explained the coins were donated by people attending funerals, Ms Yip said.


It is a local tradition that mourners will receive an envelope which contains a $1 coin which has to be used after a funeral service.


Innovative idea
The concept of using coin carts to collect spare change was awarded the Best New Coin Innovation by the International Association of Currency Affairs.


Other central banks have expressed an interest in introducing similar services in their own countries.


“The coin carts bring convenience to the public. They also help save on minting costs due to the hoarding of coins,” said Ms Yip.


The authority monitors money flow monthly. If there are not enough coins in the market, they need to place an order with the mint up to nine months in advance. In 2017, 100 million 10-cent coins were minted.


“The demand for 10-cent coins is large because supermarkets and retailers price the commodities at prices like $49.9. That is why they need the 10-cent coins for change,” Ms Yip explained.


The authority will launch a new service schedule for its two coin carts from May 20 to July 28. 


Citizens can convert their coins into banknotes free of charge, or top up their Octopus cards or e-wallet accounts at the coin carts which will travel to different districts.

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