The War On Cash
February 17, 2016 1:55 PM   Subscribe

 
But get rid of the $1 bill?

The vending machine lobby (no, I'm serious; this happened) will put a stop to that!
posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Ha, I forgot about that. I think there have previous FPPs on killing pennies around the world.
posted by GuyZero at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2016


When I read about the war on cash, all I can think of is that scene in "The Handmaid's Tale" when the protagonist discovers that her money card has been suspended (along with the cards of all other women).
posted by Melismata at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2016 [53 favorites]


Yesterday's episode of Deutsche Welle's Spectrum podcast had a story titled "Why a limit on cash payments has Germans concerned about state surveillance."
posted by XMLicious at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Heh. I walked into a gas station two days ago to buy some cough candies (getting over a cold). I realize that most people there are paying for a tank of gas, but the clerk asked me if I were paying by debit or by credit card for my $1.49 purchase and seemed shocked that there would be cash involved
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


What the hell am I supposed to snort coke out of? A twenty? Do I look like a heathen to you?
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:11 PM on February 17, 2016 [18 favorites]




Cash won't rule everything around me
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know a lot of people who pride themselves on walking around with little to no cash. The convenience of never having to deal with change is something I certainly understand. Still, I am fine dealing with cash-only establishments, and sometimes don't want "purchased 3 slices of pizza for lunch" officially recorded anywhere.
posted by Phredward at 2:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Schmod, we got rid of both our 1 and 2 bills...vending machines still work
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:14 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heard about this idea on the radio this AM and frankly wondered why it would be effective to eliminate cash. Would it really reduce drug sales? Wouldn't this just end up driving people in illicit trade to support electronic currency such as Bitcoin instead?
posted by caution live frogs at 2:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


God fucking help you when there's a blackout.
posted by ocschwar at 2:16 PM on February 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


If they get rid of cash I am hoping that people will go back to using gold and silver for their untracked transactions.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:16 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Who the hell needs a bill worth $550 USD? I mean, *eventually* inflation will catch up to that, but not only is it a lot to carry around, no one will want to break it - either due to risk of counterfeiting, or because you will deplete all the change in their drawer!
posted by scolbath at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


FTA: A $10,000 bill in pristine condition can fetch $100,000 or more.

Capitalism is weird.
posted by palindromic at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2016 [15 favorites]


Unless there is a constitutional amendment passed which ensures a citizen's right to a no-fee, zero- or positive-interest-rate depository for their funds, this will just make getting fucked over by the bank completely inescapable.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2016 [43 favorites]


$100 bills are for little people
posted by Auden at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2016


What the hell am I supposed to snort coke out of? A twenty? Do I look like a heathen to you?

Not only that, how the hell is Randy Moss expected to pay whatever fines he finds assessed to him now?
posted by selfnoise at 2:24 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Who the hell needs a bill worth $550 USD?

High rollers in Monte Carlo?
posted by GuyZero at 2:24 PM on February 17, 2016


It would damage the economy…there is a lot of legal economic activity, that simply wouldn't take place, without cash.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 2:25 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, I think we could replace the 5 dollar bill with a coin as well on the basis that in Canada you should be able to buy a regular comic book with a coin.

We got the Loonie (dollar coin) in 1987, when a comic book cost about a dollar.
We got the Toonie (two dollar coin) in 1996, when a comic book cost about 2-3 dollars.
Comic books these days are about 4-5 dollars so it makes sense to have a five dollar coin.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:26 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


the Foonie?
posted by kokaku at 2:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [10 favorites]


When your savings account is yielding -5% having some hard cash in a safe deposit box will seem like a great option! Thats what this is really about, paving the way for more central bank policy options. I'm not a fan of this idea.
posted by H. Roark at 2:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


Who needs cash when Bitcoin is this solid?
posted by Chuffy at 2:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


When your savings account is yielding -5% having some hard cash in a safe deposit box will seem like a great option!

Up until the point when carrying hard cash over some nominal amount is evidence of illegal behavior.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:31 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


It's already a pain in the ass carrying around $10K in 100's after a good night at the tables...screw this idea.
posted by Chuffy at 2:32 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Up until the point when carrying hard cash over some nominal amount is evidence of illegal behavior.

It already is: Civil Asset Forfeiture
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [15 favorites]


To me, as my own brand of privacy freak, this is troublesome. I use cash for any purchase under $1,000. Heck I paid cash for my EZ Pass and go to the trouble of going to an EZ Pass office to give them cash to replenish it.

Cash is King.
posted by AugustWest at 2:38 PM on February 17, 2016


evidence of illegal behavior.

It isn't just illegal behavior though. As Ted Kaszinski explained in the defining deviance downward section of the unabomber manisfesto Big Brother wants to know if you are doing legal but deviant things like buying beer, cigarettes, big gulp sodas, and sex toys. B.B. wants to know and it wants to keep a permanent record until the next generation of digital storage arrives and this generation begins its relentless rotting of bits.
posted by bukvich at 2:38 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


well, people can always pay with tide ...
posted by pyramid termite at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I was in the USA recently, and I can't believe you guys are still using $1 bills and pennies. It's like stepping out of a time machine into the 1800s!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


AnecdoteFilter: When I was a teenager, my grandpa had some stupid run of luck in Vegas which resulted in him coming to Christmas with what my dad called a "horse hoof". It was four solid inches of rolled $100 bills. He let me hold it and then said this to me, and I'll remember it forever. "You can travel around the planet for six thousand bucks."
posted by Sphinx at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


I see no point in banknotes over €200, and the idea the idea that every transaction (even for transactions worth cents) has to be recorded because OMG TAX EVASION AND CRIME is abhorrent.

In here, as part of the austerity program to fight tax evasion (which is a problem, however, banking frauds are even more so, and a few weeks ago another bank needed public funds to keep afloat), every shop had to issue receipts; the problem is the systems are expensive, and I know a lot of people that spent a lot of money updating their cash registers and buying new POS units, just to fold under the strain a few months later. These people are not interested in fighting tax evasion. They just want to be able to snoop around without hassle.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:56 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not sure why people want to get rid of $1 bills? Are you suggesting no $1 denomination or are you suggesting coins? Because coins are the devil. Just absolutely the worst thing ever. I'm happy that coins are generally small enough denomination that I don't have to care about them much (compared to countries with coins up to like $5 in value).
posted by thefoxgod at 2:57 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


The fact that every denomination of bill is still the same size in this idiot country never fails to fill me with rage. Are all the coins the same size? No, because that would be fucking stupid.

is it because of the vending machine lobby again, fuck those guys
posted by poffin boffin at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


I would like to see a 50¢ note introduced. Then we could get rid of the 50¢ piece, which is even more awkward than normal coins.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I would like to see at 50¢ note introduced.

Get bills or die trying.
posted by GuyZero at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Last week, I spent three days in Sweden, and not once did I go to an ATM nor think that I could do with some cash. There, all transactions can be handled electronically with cards, and, importantly, there are no minimum amounts for card transactions (unlike, say, the UK, where enterprises smaller than a national supermarket chain typically only allow card transactions of £5-£10 or more). In Stockholm, even flea market traders have card readers (typically those iZettle units that work with iPhones), and, rumour has it, so do beggars.

Of course, it may well be that the citizens of Scandinavia are happy for all their transactions to be surveilled, because Jante Law or something, unlike us rambunctious descendants of Roundheads and Levellers in the Anglosphere.
posted by acb at 3:08 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Crime, terrorism and tax evasion: why banks are waging war on cash
Because they want to have a monopoly on "crime, terrorism and tax evasion"?
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


I lived in Slovenia this fall, and the bank machines basically only distributed €50 notes. But vendors (grocery stores, etc) really didn't like it when you tried to pay with a 50. It was kind of a problem.

(And now I'm in Mexico, where everyone wants cash, including my landlady. Which is a problem since the ATMs only will give you 6000 pesos at a time...)
posted by leahwrenn at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2016


Then there was the time I went to lunch with a group from work and all one guy had for his part of the bill was ApplePay.
posted by ckape at 3:15 PM on February 17, 2016


ATM sensor that detects banknote serial numbers

Don't be too confident that cash isn't being surveilled. Particularly when it goes from the bank to your pocket to your payee and straight back to a bank.
posted by XMLicious at 3:19 PM on February 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


Because they want to have a monopoly on "crime, terrorism and tax evasion"?

Since the article was about central banks - ie, the state - every libertarian is nodding along with you.
posted by jpe at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2016


I feel like I can do a little mental shortcut here by noting that if Larry Summers is in favor of something, it's because he's trying to fuck you over.
posted by indubitable at 3:39 PM on February 17, 2016 [20 favorites]


Las Vegas, gamblers in general and poker players in particular will not like the results of this. It's bad enough that $100 bills are the largest we have. As chuffy alluded to, carrying more than $10K or $15K in cash is cumbersome, and there are many poker games where you want to have that much available. Hell, there are a few poker games where the blind bets are $2K or 4K.

Bellagio intruduced $100K chips last year to help deal with the enormous amounts bet at baccarat. Previously, their largest chip was $25K. Bellagio high denomination chips are used as currency surrogates by regular Las Vegas high stakes poker players.
posted by Warren Terra at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


FTA: A $10,000 bill in pristine condition can fetch $100,000 or more.

How much if it's a forgery?
How much if it was forged by Andy Warhol?
How much if he signed his own name as Secretary of the Treasury?
How much if someone else signed his name?
posted by rifflesby at 3:58 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


The vending machine lobby (no, I'm serious; this happened) will put a stop to that!

The vending machine lobby has NFC sensors on everything now anyway. You can buy a coke on the street with your phone.
posted by Talez at 3:59 PM on February 17, 2016


thefoxgod: "Not sure why people want to get rid of $1 bills? Are you suggesting no $1 denomination or are you suggesting coins? Because coins are the devil. Just absolutely the worst thing ever."

Coins for frequently used denominations are awesome. It's so annoying to go back to the US and have to try to force cruddy rumpled single dollar bills into vending machines. $1 bills circulate way more than $5 or $10 or $20 bills, so they get more wear and tear, but they're the bills that need to be machine-read the most? That's nuts. Switch the $1 bill to a $1 coin -- and the $5 bill to a $5 coin while you're at it.

(Also, since I'm now just bitching about money in general, the units are just so awkward. Get rid of the quarter, introduce a 50 cent coin, get rid of the $20, and you'll have the following far more logical unit breakdown:

$   .01
$   .05
$   .10
$   .50
$  1.00
$  5.00
$ 10.00
$ 50.00
$100.00

posted by Bugbread at 4:09 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bellagio high denomination chips are used as currency surrogates by regular Las Vegas high stakes poker players.

It seems like they would be trivially easy to counterfeit, not for the purpose of making fake ones to cash in, but for making fake ones to pass on to someone else as currency.
posted by poffin boffin at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2016


As H. Roark says, it's about negative interests rates from the Central Banks, and the power to compel people to spend money NOW because it will be (literally) worth less tomorrow.

The safest liquid form of holding Euros for a reasonable period of time, the German two-year note, has a -0.51% yield. 10 million Euro becomes 9,898,260 Euro in two years, a loss of 101,740 Euros. 10 million Euro is 20,000 500 Euro notes, which weights about 50 pounds and fits comfortably in a smallish box that can be put on an ordinary shelf in a walk-in safe. That loss avoided from buying the bond buys a LOT of climate control and security and still leaves a profit afterwards.
posted by MattD at 4:15 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


like indubitable, if summers is for it, i'm against it.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:16 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


blue_beetle: "I was in the USA recently, and I can't believe you guys are still using $1 bills and pennies. It's like stepping out of a time machine into the 1800s!"

Or, you know, 1986, when the loonie was introduced. Or four years ago, when the Canadian penny stopped being minted.
posted by Chrysostom at 4:17 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


It seems like they would be trivially easy to counterfeit, not for the purpose of making fake ones to cash in, but for making fake ones to pass on to someone else as currency.

You'll only be able to do it once and nobody has the need for enough chips to retire on.
posted by Talez at 4:19 PM on February 17, 2016


We do have a $1 coin in the US but no one uses it because coins are a pain in the ass to deal with. I literally never leave the house with coins on me and if I get any in change, they go right into one of the jars on my dresser until we get enough to take them to a CoinStar machine to redeem for an Amazon credit.
posted by octothorpe at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Coins for frequently used denominations are awesome.

Well, to each their own :) When I'm in Japan the use of coins for fairly high-value denominations drives me crazy (especially since it's a more cash culture than the US). I end up with buckets of coins since actually using coins is very annoying (in the US I can mostly ignore them and every once in a while dump a bucket into one of those machines that will convert them into something useful).

(on preview, basically what octothorpe said)
posted by thefoxgod at 4:24 PM on February 17, 2016


We do have a $1 coin in the US but no one uses it because coins are a pain in the ass to deal with.

I live through the Canadian loonie transition and it was fine. The US government sealed the fate of the $1 coin when it refused to withdraw $1 bills from circulation.
posted by GuyZero at 4:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm in the minority of people who likes larger-denomination coins, though I couldn't really tell you why. The smallest note in the UK is £5 and they have £1 and £2 coins. When I moved there, I thought I would hate it, but I didn't mind it and actually kind of liked it. I did notice that it felt easier to spend money more quickly, probably because I associate coins with loose change (and therefore not as valuable). And £1 and £2 coins are obviously more valuable than any American coins.

It was just a weird little mental thing I noticed after I'd been there a while that I had to try to adjust for because I was going through money noticeably faster than I had in the past.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, the $1 coin is a shitty coin. It's marginally better than the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, which was difficult to pick out of your pockets without mistaking it for a quarter or vice versa, but it's still not great. We should have imitated the British and made a dollar coin noticeably heavier than any other coin. The pound coin is a wonderful coin.
posted by Automocar at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


So the fact that you have to actually get rid of dollar bills to force people to use the coins should be the first clue that no one wants to use them. I have a stack of Sacagawea dollars on my dresser that I've gotten in change from vending machines but I'm not about to put the things in my jeans pocket to spend them. They weigh a ton and make noise when you walk and damage your clothes if you leave them in your pocket when you do the laundry.
posted by octothorpe at 4:37 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's weird that the government didn't get rid of $1 bills when they were trying to introduce coins. I'd be interested to know what reasoning, if any, was behind this.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:39 PM on February 17, 2016


I'd be interested to know what reasoning, if any, was behind this.

Vending machine company lobbyists. Seriously. They didn't want to be forced to refit machines to accept dollar coins.

Although in the end they refitted a huge number to accept bills and then a smaller number to accept credit cards.

Also apparently lobbying by the companies that supply the paper for currency.
posted by GuyZero at 4:48 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


So the fact that you have to actually get rid of dollar bills to force people to use the coins should be the first clue that no one wants to use them

Except the populations of Canada, Japan and the UK where people are pretty happy with them.
posted by GuyZero at 4:49 PM on February 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


$500 bills? Who cares? I'm much more ready for the the fucking penny to be abolished.
posted by zardoz at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was going to object on the grounds that you couldn't get souvenir smashed pennies any more, but now that I think about it a smashed nickel would be even better.
posted by rifflesby at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Except the populations of Canada, Japan and the UK where people are pretty happy with them

Citation needed. I mean, they don't have a choice, doesn't mean they are or are not happy. I certainly know a couple Japanese who prefer bills, but I also know Americans who prefer coins.... so I suspect this is more on a personal level than society level.

Governments rarely give people a choice (US $1 is an exception) so its hard to know if people actually prefer that or just accept it.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:05 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


But it's not even a question of liking it - like, does it really even rise to the level of inconvenience? No. Collectively the countries en masse have moved on and it's a non-issue. No one waxes nostalgic in Canada about $1 bills. It's a complete non-issue and the costs associated with the transition were inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
posted by GuyZero at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


We should have imitated the British and made a dollar coin noticeably heavier than any other coin. The pound coin is a wonderful coin.

Come on, a coin that weighs a whole pound? That's just a proposal straight from the lobbying offices of Big Belt.
posted by indubitable at 5:08 PM on February 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


I really hope they don't get rid of the $100 bill. In fact, I would like to see the reintroduction of a $500 bill. The U.S.began taking larger bills out of circulation in 1969. $100 in 1969 dollars is over $600 in today's money. To keep up with inflation, we should have reintroduced the $500 bill some time around 2003.

While I sympathize with the goal of making money laundering and other illegal transactions harder, making cash less useful disproportionately hurts the poor and the underbanked. In this case, I think the proposed cure is worse than the ill that they are trying to treat.
posted by cruelfood at 5:08 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


The $100 bill is difficult to use though, stores really don't like it in my experience. (Unlike Japan, where the 10,000 yen bill (~$88) is commonly used). I would be happy with $100 in theory but always feel uncomfortable using it for this reason.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:10 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


The old-school parking meters around Ann Arbor take $1 coins. Four hours of parking now cost $6.40* Thus grad students and faculty at Michigan are the only market I have ever witnessed for dollar coins.


*-Because most meters have, at most, a 4-hour limit, this is a maddeningly uneven sum that was clearly chosen to encourage overpayment.
posted by palindromic at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2016


Thus grad students and faculty at Michigan are the only market I have ever witnessed for dollar coins.

In the Bay Area, which has an infamously fragmented transit system, it used to be that CalTrain machines would give you dollar coins in change and BART (which lots of people would transfer to from CalTrain) wouldn't accept them. Or maybe it was the other way around. This might actually still be the case; I haven't used cash on either system in years.
posted by aws17576 at 5:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


blue_beetle: "I was in the USA recently, and I can't believe you guys are still using $1 bills and pennies. It's like stepping out of a time machine into the 1800s!"

You must be from Wisconsin. Everywhere else, they're called ATMs.
posted by symbioid at 5:30 PM on February 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


octothorpe: "So the fact that you have to actually get rid of dollar bills to force people to use the coins should be the first clue that no one wants to use them."

The fact that you have to get rid of dollar bills to force people to use coins should also be a clue that people are super resistant to change. How about this: introduce a $0.25 bill. See if people use it, or if they prefer quarters. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that they'll prefer the quarter to the $0.25 bill. It has nothing to do with actually preferring coins or bills and everything to do with inertia.

GuyZero: "But it's not even a question of liking it - like, does it really even rise to the level of inconvenience? No. Collectively the countries en masse have moved on and it's a non-issue."

I wonder if there's a national character issue involved. I have literally never heard a Japanese person complain about currency, except to say that when they visit the US they don't like to handle the money because it's so dirty. But I've heard Americans complain about bills, and about coins, and about debit cards, and about credit cards. I'm starting to suspect Americans just enjoy complaining about currency.

(Disclaimer: I am an American, and my first comment in this thread was complaining about currency.)
posted by Bugbread at 5:33 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, in general Americans complain more about everything. (Whereas I feel I only really know the opinions of my wife's family in Japan, since I assume everyone else is just going to be polite to me and not complain --- Americans do that a lot less....)
posted by thefoxgod at 5:44 PM on February 17, 2016


I've heard Americans complain about bills, and about coins, and about debit cards, and about credit cards.

Nah, there have been plenty of threads here where non-Americans have complained that US currency is different from theirs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:14 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just wish our cash here in the states weren't covered with pictures of politicians.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:29 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Vending machine company lobbyists. Seriously. They didn't want to be forced to refit machines to accept dollar coins.

No. Sorry. That's wrong.

I worked in the coin-op industry for over a decade and they were obsessed with getting the dollar bill out of circulation so the dollar coin could take over.

All of their machines already took Susan B Anthonys and Sacagaweas and the Presidental Dollars. They've been ready since the 1970s. It was the paper dollar bill acceptors that were a constant source of malfunctions and frustration and caused customers to walk away rather than try smoothing out the bill for the 50th time. Paper dollars cost them business. The lack of a dollar coin forced them to keep prices lower. NFC and credit card readers are a glimmer of hope.

It was totally the cotton and paper lobby (including Senator Ted Kennedy, who protected Crane Paper, supplier to the US Mint) that continually fought back the vending lobby on the idea of killing the paper $1. And that's why we have the pitiful series of launched, relaunched, and aborted dollar coins in the USA. We're the last ones left on the planet.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:33 PM on February 17, 2016 [31 favorites]


What the hell am I supposed to snort coke out of? A twenty? Do I look like a heathen to you?

Jack Donaghy only snorts from the finest vintage $10,000 bills.
posted by praemunire at 7:05 PM on February 17, 2016


Any move away from the viability of cash (whether coins or notes, excluding the $1 note) is against the interest of most people. Just because some people prefer using other types of payment doesn't mean that cash should be phased out. And the marginal increase in difficulty of making illicit transfers gained by ceasing production of or demonetizing large bills significantly increases the difficulty of making large legal transactions with cash.
posted by clorox at 8:02 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe: "Nah, there have been plenty of threads here where non-Americans have complained that US currency is different from theirs."

Fair point. Americans like to complain about their own currency. Non-Americans like to complain about American currency.

Using Occam's Razor, the safest bet is to say that the problem is in the American currency itself.
posted by Bugbread at 8:02 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seconding JoeZydeco. The vending machine lobby is about the only people lobbying for dollar coins on a continuous basis in the USA. A coin mech is an order of magnitude at least more reliable and tamper resistant than a bill reader and you can recycle the coins as change. And they take up less surface space. And coins are cheaper to count.

And while card and NFC readers may eventually be the default option the infrastructure is only appropriate in higher volume locations.
posted by Mitheral at 8:04 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


When the crisis got really pronounced, my in-laws, in Minsk, bought Turkish rugs, furniture, a car they could not drive, anything that would be not cash, because they knew cash would be worth less the next day, and the next. Maybe we're coming to that now here. When a country moves to discourage you from holding its own sovereign currency, that's a sign.
posted by newdaddy at 8:08 PM on February 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Canadian here. As the one- and two- dollar bills were phased out -- ye gods -- thirty and twenty years ago, respectively, I stashed a few of each in good shape to maybe someday show to possible descendants as a curiosity. I still have these bills sitting on a ziploc bag downstairs, maybe thirty bucks of what is still legal tender but which has not been in circulation for decades. I occasionally wonder if I should go make some small purchase on a quiet evening at the grocery store with some of it just to see a teenager have to call her manager to process the transaction.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:13 PM on February 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


A few years ago, when I was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, they had a vending machine that accepted *twenties*. I didn't have smaller bills, so I stuck one in there, bought something for $1.50, and then 50 cents popped out and then 18 ones started spitting out of the machine. It took awhile, and was surreal and comical at the same time. So now we had tons of ones to spend in the neighboring machines. Kind of genius, now that I think of it.

Also, one of the ones that came out of the first machine had a Washington with sunglasses drawn on it with a pen. I kept that one as a souvenir, still have it!
posted by megafauna at 8:23 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit: "I occasionally wonder if I should go make some small purchase on a quiet evening at the grocery store with some of it just to see a teenager have to call her manager to process the transaction."

The first trip I made to the US on my own in 1990 I went to my bank and bought all the US currency they had in house. A few hundred dollars of mixed and generally older than average American bills including ~$20 in $2s. Which I didn't find out was weird in some places until we were crossing the boarder and the US citizen I was traveling with kind of boggled when my cash was laid out on the customs inspection table.

From that point forward we made it a point of including a $2 bill with every low value transaction on that trip strictly for the lulz. It never quite rose to the Taco Bell Story level but I did have one convenience store only agree to take it when I told the attendant my only other option was Canadian money.

Weirdly since then I've collected yet more $2 in my American cash stash. I must have ~15 of them despite having less than $200 American. I think there must be some Canadians who end up collecting them as souvenirs or something because they have heard stories of them not being used.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on February 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Do other countries have the same issue as the UK has with cash - in that you can't get or use anything above a £20 note? I mean, larger notes exist but if you get money out of an ATM it will give it to you in £20 and £10 notes. I once worked a job where I was paid cash and every fortnight I would be given a bulky envelope because my legit, prosperous employer would pay me in £20 notes. My in-laws came to visit and had bought some money in Australia before coming - multiple shops refused to take the £50 they tried to pay with (yes, they are legal tender but some places will just refuse them).

And British £2 and £1 coins feel awesome. When we moved from Australia I took to calling them dubloons, because that's what they felt like.

Having lived in four different countries in 7 years (and having visited a lot more, with different currencies) I have to say you get used to whatever the deal is pretty quickly. Nearly everything is done in cash? You learn to carry cash. Most places use EFTPOS? You remember your card. Sweden? Everything is electronic.
posted by Megami at 9:27 PM on February 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Used to be difficult to spend $50s and $100s in smaller stores here in Canada until the plastic bills came out. Now that they can't realistically be counterfeited most places take the plastic bills as long as they have change. IE: if your bill is $80 they'll take your $100 but not if the bill is $3.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 PM on February 17, 2016


It is ingrained for me that places don't take $50s although that's changed a bit with with the plastic money. In 2003 I was headed to Geneva for a week. I went to the currency exchange place in downtown Toronto to get some Swiss Francs, worth around the same as CAD at the time, but all they had were 50s. I thought they would be a pain to use so I planned on going to an ATM as soon as I arrived in Geneva. I landed and withdrew 200 Swiss Francs. Which came out of the machine as a 200 Swiss Franc note. I felt guilty using it almost immediately at the airport but they didn't seem to care.
posted by TORunner at 11:15 PM on February 17, 2016


USians complain about currency because our system is completely whacko. We still have pennies and nickels, all the bills are the same size and colour even after the recent redesign, and many citizens are unaware that the most magnificent of bills (the $2) is actually legal tender.

What we need is a $1 and $5 coin, wider circulation of 50s instead of tens, and a $500 and $1000 bill (quo vadis, Salmon P Chase?) to reflect the current real value of those denominations. The $1 coin shall be the new quarter and the $5 shall feel like the Kennedy. What the fuck is a dime for, anyway? Two minutes in a parking meter? Americans under 60 can't recall a time when a dime actually bought something on its own.

I hate paying for daily transactions in cash because the change amount is inevitably awkward to carry and not worth the trouble. It's almost less hassle to write a check— and I hate checks.
posted by a halcyon day at 1:12 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


My supermarket lady here in Finland probably thinks I'm a super annuated and aging pole dancer. The Kenyan visa guys gave me change in 5 euro notes for 60e and I wanted to get rid of them in a primarily cashless society (we're better than Sweden, I've been told to say). She waved them at all the customers behind me as she pointedly counted them out.
posted by infini at 1:14 AM on February 18, 2016


I still have a $2 note from back when I used to live in the US. Its been 8 years but nobody will take it anywhere, not even in Africa.
posted by infini at 1:15 AM on February 18, 2016


I hate paying for daily transactions in cash because the change amount is inevitably awkward to carry

I think this is a relevant point with regards to US vs UK currencies - in the UK, sales tax (VAT) is built into the price, whereas in the US state sales tax adds odd amounts onto prices. So round number totals are less common in the USA.

In the UK, it's completely plausible to pay with a note and get a couple of pound coins (and maybe a penny) as your change -- not 100% of the time, but not uncommonly. In the US, if you get coin change back, it's always a handful of odd change because your amount ended up being $5.27 or something.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:26 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


megafauna: A few years ago, when I was at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, they had a vending machine that accepted *twenties*.

Some years ago I had something similar happen with a Boston-area MBTA token machine.

I bought a D Line ticket for like $2.50 but instead of a poker game's worth of wrinkled singles, I got a pocket-busting flood of clinking Sacajawea dollars coins in change. I groaned like Job at the thought of the identical "Hey, look! It's a dollar coin!" conversations I would be having with clerk after clerk in the days ahead.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:01 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


We got the Loonie (dollar coin) in 1987, when a comic book cost about a dollar.
We got the Toonie (two dollar coin) in 1996, when a comic book cost about 2-3 dollars.
Comic books these days are about 4-5 dollars so it makes sense to have a five dollar coin.

the Foonie?


The "Geddy". "I forgot my wallet at home, loan me a Ged until tomorrow eh."
posted by MikeMc at 6:17 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I bought a D Line ticket for like $2.50 but instead of a poker game's worth of wrinkled singles, I got a pocket-busting flood of clinking Sacajawea dollars coins in change.

Christ on a cracker, I remember when the MBTA did this for a while to try to "encourage" people to switch over to the Sacajawea coins. I had a co-worker who made a point of hitting up these machines to cash in as many of his paper singles for the coins as possible, so at least every time I got stuck with them i could trade them to him. I still have one of the coins in my nightstand drawer as a memento, and I'm sure I got it from buying a T token with a $5. Of course, now the MBTA has figured out the trick of forcing everyone to use electronic cards that can only be refilled in amounts that guarantee overpayment or unusable remainder balances.
posted by briank at 6:26 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wholeheartedly support the abolishment of the penny, and it's worth noting that US coinage hasn't always been worth so relatively little.

As an example, the US used to mint a half-cent coin, which was discontinued in 1857, making the penny the smallest coin in circulation to the present day. However, in 1857, 1 half-penny was roughly the equivalent of $0.13 today (using a straightforward purchasing power conversion, which can be problematic but I'm just drawing a general picture here), making one 1857 penny basically equivalent to a 2015 quarter.

Coinage in 1857 was a lot more high-value than what Americans are used to today: it would be the equivalent of having coins worth $0.26 (pennies), $1.28 (nickels), $2.57 (dimes) and $6.42 (quarters). The smallest bill, the dollar bill, was worth basically $25 in 2015 -- a very different cash world than the one we live in now.

This phenomenon can be found elsewhere, too: the UK's half-farthing, which was 1/1920 of £1, was de-monetized in 1870. That is roughly equivalent to 4p-5p in modern British currency. The farthing, worth 1/960 of £1, was similarly worth about 4p in 2015 values when it was demonetized in 1960.
posted by andrewesque at 6:47 AM on February 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was a huge fan of Japanese currency when I first arrived here. Dollar equivalent coins, and even better, a five dollar (500 yen) coin. The paper money is in roughly ten, fifty, and hundred dollar equivalents, and no one bats an eyelash if you buy a ¥100 pack of gum with ¥10000.

Then the current administration forced a national ID system on the country, and have said their goal is to have the number on cards that people will eventually have to carry, and will be useable as health insurance cards, tax cards, and in their words, as debit cards, too. I'm less than thrilled with the prospect.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:30 AM on February 18, 2016


Coins last years and years while bills last months. Also, they would save money.
posted by soelo at 10:16 AM on February 18, 2016


So here's what you do. You get a belt. And 2 small pouches. Cloth or leather or whatever but make sure that they're 2 different colors. Then you fill one up with dollar coins(Sacagawea or Presidential series. It just needs to be yellowish.) and you fill the other one with half-dollars. Then everywhere you visit, offer to pay with either "silver" (the half-dollars) or with "gold" (the dollar coins.) Also try to talk in an old timey way and claim to be a travelling merchant of sorts. You know, just for kicks.
posted by I-baLL at 10:23 AM on February 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Coins last years and years while bills last months. "

Most bills last over 5 years.
posted by I-baLL at 10:24 AM on February 18, 2016


I bought a D Line ticket for like $2.50 but instead of a poker game's worth of wrinkled singles, I got a pocket-busting flood of clinking Sacajawea dollars coins in change. I groaned like Job at the thought of the identical "Hey, look! It's a dollar coin!" conversations I would be having with clerk after clerk in the days ahead.

Yeah I got 17 or 18 of those out of a machine at a theme park during their short-lived push.
posted by atoxyl at 11:53 AM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Holy Baaden-Meinhof effect! I was thinking the other day what a bad idea a cashless society is.

'Why?', you didn't ask? Well, there are a number of reasons.

One is the necessity of unnecessary intermediaries: e-cash means you not only need power, running computers with no downtime, but also these odd institutions which used to be boring and stable and above all serious.
Once there is no cash, we are beholden to their every whim. With no recourse. And with regulation which will forever be rushing after the facts and abuses.

But the most horrible effect of a cashless society will be the effect on society itself.

It will harden us. It will make us unmeaningly selfish. It will set up even more walls between us than there already are. And there are quite a few concrete examples to prove this.

Recently(-ish) the public transport system here went over to a card based system. It used to run on a kind of punchcard system; you bought a card with a number of units on it and every time you traveled, you stamped a number of units equal to the distance you traveled.
A bit messy, a bit prone to fraud, maybe, but it worked well.
However, it had one massive societal benefit: you could share these units. You could give them away. If you and a friend were traveling to the same place, and they had forgotten their card, or were too poor to afford one, you could stamp off your units and then stamp off units for them.

You could do that for total strangers. And people sometimes did.

Which has become entirely unpractical with the e-card used now: someone forgets, looses or has no card? They are shit out of luck and you couldn't help them if you tried, bar buying another card and topping it up for them.

So, due to this electronic system, casual sharing became impossible.

And that will also happen with e-cash. No more giving a homeless person a few coins. You need an intermediary to give or share your money ... an infrastructure for sharing everyone has to buy into, where previously only the issuing needed an institution and the sharing was free.

A cashless society will become less kind to oneanother, due to the small yet-oh-so-present hurdles all of the sudden put in place.

And of course the tracking, the hackable databases, the at-one-point-possibly-regulated-into-compromising information stored.

And it is justified as a foil for crime? HAH! Electronic cash has seen the largest, most far-reaching, most deadly/impactfull crimes ever seen! The recent crash, banks laundering drug money, bitcoin vaults drained, Ponzi schemes, high-frequency trading, embezzlement, Russian banks being 'hacked' (by themselves!), sudden impoundment of a part of your savings (Cyprus), the crap PayPal has pulled, huge pay-offs, PACs, SuperPACs and Hillary's Payoff Fund, sorry, Victory Fund, etc etc etc.

All aided, abetted and made easier and/or possible by the existance of electronic currency.
posted by MacD at 12:35 PM on February 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yep, it was a BART machine that gave me a bunch of Sacajawea coins as well. I have one left.
posted by infini at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2016


The year they were really pushing those gold dollar coins, I wanted to have my wife pick out a new camera. So I wrote a little note to that effect, and then I made up a box that looked like a treasure chest and filled it with GOLD! GOLD! and tucked the note inside. It was kind of light-hearted fun.

She got the camera, I think. I am 95% certain that she still has those twenty damn dollar coins.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2016


A point that I'm rather surprised no one has raised is that for decades coins larger than five cents were minted with precious metal content. Your Silver dollar was just that. For years they also made multiple denominations of dollar coins from gold. Perhaps including even a small portion of precious metal in a coin could ease its acceptance.
posted by TDavis at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2016


It would approach homeopathic levels of precious metals, I'd think.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:23 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


USians complain about currency because our system is completely whacko. We still have pennies and nickels, all the bills are the same size and colour even after the recent redesign, and many citizens are unaware that the most magnificent of bills (the $2) is actually legal tender.

There is a simple way to make the US system -- dollar bill and all -- useful again. Lop a zero off.

We get rid of the "penny" and "nickel" because the new penny is worth ten old cents.

We get rid of the $1, $2 and $5 bills because one new dollar is worth ten old dollars. New quarters are worth $2.50 old school. There's now a reason to actually use the half-dollar* coin that we already have, and given that it's worth five old dollars, the fact that it's large is useful.

We fix the crappy dollar coin question by saying that we don't want a coin that's worth ten old dollars and now the new dollar is worth more.

PBR costs under a quarter a can at most places. Comic books are under a buck. And so forth.

Much like the old English Pound, the biggest problem with the system is simple inflation over time, which has made the small units either nearly worthless or not worth making. Lop that zero off, and our coins and notes are useful again. Even the penny.

We could even, in the reissue (you have to reissue, you can't just say an old ten is now worth ten times that much) we can fix all sorts of problems -- size, color, material, whatever.

We get to use the same damn values we know, but they make sense again!

What could possibly go wrong?



* Not 50 cents. Half dollar. US coins are marked One Cent, Five Cents, One Dime, Quarter Dollar, Half Dollar and Dollar.
posted by eriko at 2:26 PM on February 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong?

Not much if you're hyper-inflationary Brazil.
posted by GuyZero at 2:42 PM on February 18, 2016


I used to run the cash vault at an a bank branch inside of a grocery store. Mostly I learned that cash is heavy and it's dirty.

Paper bills aren't terrible until you get into REALLY large amounts. Fun fact: Each bill weighs exactly 1 gram.

It's the coins that are the real PITA. A box (50 rolls of 50 coins) of pennies isn't too bad and dimes are toss-able. Nickles really have some heft to them but I could still usually grab them with one hand but quarters are a real pain. I'm really glad that I never had to deal with a box of $1 coins or $0.50 coins as I didn't really know proper lifting technique back then like I do now.

Our branch was in a strip mall so a lot of smaller business made their daily deposits at our branch. Since we didn't service our own ATM out of the cash vault, we took in a lot more cash than we gave out and I shipped a lot of bricks of twenties (10 straps of 100 bills each, $20,000/brick) and occasionally bricks of hundreds back to the regional cash-vault (via armored car).

So from that perspective, I'd really like to get rid of cash. There is a lot of infrastructure that burns a lot of energy dealing with it and I've had to haul a lot of heavy money around professionally so I just kind of dislike cash in general. Except for brand new, crisp bills. They're SO clean and I like the smell.

But, I do occasionally need to use cash and it's the easiest, most fool-proof form of payment for Craig's list purchases, even cashier's checks can be fraudulent and wire-transfers usually incur a fee. So I'm totally in favor of using a lot less cash but we can't just get rid of it.
posted by VTX at 3:06 PM on February 18, 2016


Currency and other non-connected versions of infrastructure are still useful, like ancient unconscious behavior patterns are still useful in human lives despite our higher-level "System 2" reasoning abilities. Maybe it's better in aggregate if we use more interconnected systems most of the time, but in extraordinary circumstances less sophisticated ways of going about things can be the most appropriate tool for the job.
posted by Small Dollar at 3:26 PM on February 18, 2016


You're absolutely right. My thinking is just that if we use a lot less cash, we can have armored cars the size of a Honda Fit instead of a school bus.
posted by VTX at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2016


The goal is to track everything and for people to believe in that surveillance. Money is a belief system. People now maintain the illusion that they are not tracked using ATMs and cash. Cash is a symbol of freedom from being tracked, but not actual freedom of anonymity.

My guess is that this movement to eliminate cash coincides with a mature program to track cash transactions with near certainty. Program A is done. On to the schedule for Program B. Once something is totally controlled it can be safely consolidated.
posted by thebestusernameever at 5:19 PM on February 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like my analog money just fine thanks. Not everything needs to be "upgraded" to digital.
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:18 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The tooth fairy brings my kids US gold dollar coins (1/tooth) which she buys from the bank by the roll. In Europe, she brought them a €1 coin. I hope dollar coins stay in circulation. (I also hope no one looses a tooth while we're in Mexico, because I'm not sure what the tooth fairy will bring here. Maybe a 10 peso coin, which is a little over 50¢...)
posted by leahwrenn at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2016


I read this thread a couple of weeks back and while TFA isn't about coins, that's what the discussion morphed into.

Like others above my local rail will convert paper to coins for change and really, best thing ever. Used to do quarters and only accept singles until they upgraded their tech a number of years ago. Is that sweet plunking sound, so like a slot machine, of the dollars hitting the bin sweet? You betcha! Is it better to have the option to drop a $5 or a $10 than ride dirty, hells yes.

Dollar coins always seem like they would be a hassle to spend but meh: absolutely better than paper in vending machine and man, it creates a near token-like experience buying tickets the other way. Change goes in that lame change pocket where it conveniently avoids being spent.

Only hazard is when I get a Susan B which ever since they stopped making I've obsessively hoarded. Can. Not. Spend. Them.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2016


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