No more pennies, let’s go digital

Merri Silverstein
3 min readJun 30, 2018

The US Mint lost $69 million making pennies last year

8.4 billion pennies were minted.

This has been bothering me for years. Why on Earth do we still make pennies that cost more than a penny and waste our tax payers’ dollars? Why do we even have nickels and dimes they have no purpose that I can see a use for ? Going digital saves billions of dollars a year for governments around the world. If we are still creating these coins for the sake of giving people jobs let’s redistribute these jobs and put people on a path with a career of more purpose.

There’s literally nothing you can buy with a single penny and you can’t do much else with it either. Vending machines don’t accept them, and neither do most parking meters. You can not use them in bulk, try it! Even automatic toll booths won’t take them, except Illinois which is the home state of President Abraham Lincoln, whose face adorns the coin. Greg Mankiw says that "The purpose of the monetary system is to facilitate exchange, but...the penny no longer serves that purpose."

According to the U.S. Mint’s 2014 annual report, the current cost of a penny is 1.7 centsper coin. With nearly 8 billion pennies minted in 2014, the U.S. spent almost $132 million to produce less than $50 million of circulating currency.

One-cent coins minted after 1982 are made of copper plating around a core of potentially toxic zinc, which can cause kidney failure and damage red blood cells. Zinc poisoning in pets can occur with the ingestion of a single penny.

In 2010, Congress directed the U.S. Mint to find a cheaper way to manufacture the penny. The Mint soon concluded there wasn’t one, or at least one that would lower the cost less than one cent. The fact is, we’ve known for years that the penny was costing us more than one cent, and that it was highly unlikely that changing the composition, manufacturing process and distribution would change that!

It’s possible that what happens to the penny could end up depending not on the law, but on decisions made by businesses. If more businesses start rounding down their bills, their customers will find themselves with fewer pennies in their pockets. As both stores and individuals stop keeping pennies on hand, banks won’t need to supply as many – and…

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Merri Silverstein

Enjoy sharing my knowledge with others on crypto and other topics… I never run out of what to talk about !