Local businesses asking for exact change or cashless payments amid coin shortage


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many local businesses are now asking customers to pay with exact change or to use a debit or credit card if possible. It’s not just a request across the Capital Region; it’s nationwide. The U.S. is experiencing a coin shortage. 

The Federal Reserve issued a statement that read in part “The COVID‐19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coin.”

They added that the U.S. Mint’s production also decreased due to measures put in place to protect their employees.

From a consumer’s perspective, fears of spreading or catching germs has likely played a role as well.

“Anytime you exchange anything between people these days, people are going to be a little bit suspect,” said John Witkowski, the President and CEO of the Independent Bankers Association of New York State. 

Witkowski told NEWS10 ABC that the stagnant economy has forced not only a shortage in coin but cash, too.

“The pandemic has kept people inside for the last three to four months, not a lot of money has been exchanged. Everybody has their cards and are doing everything online. Even with grocery stores, you now have Instacart,” said Witkowski.

Witkowski said he does believe the situation will start to resolve itself as businesses start to open up and things return to normal, but he pointed out that discussions of a cashless society have been happening for years. He said we’ll have to wait and see how the Federal Reserve moves forward.

“To be honest with you, I think they’re waiting for this to play out and see how much of a change in consumer behavior will be after this pandemic or as the pandemic slows down across the country,” said Witkowski.

In the meantime, he said consumers can do their part in helping out by calling their local bank to see if they want your change. He said to keep in mind that many banks no longer have counter machines and will ask for coins to be pre-rolled.

“Or there’s local grocery stores I’m sure that have those coin machines that can dispense cash for ya, but at least that starts the flow again of the cycle, the supply chain cycle of coinage and paper,” said Witkowski. 

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