• Market Crumbs

The U.S. Mint Can't Catch A Break

Image via Michael Longmire on Unsplash

The United States Mint, which is responsible for producing coinage for the U.S., is being overwhelmed by the effects of the coronavirus. The two different types of coinage that the U.S. Mint produces—legal tender coinage and coin-related products such as silver and gold bullion coins, are each facing supply issues.

Coins such as pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are becoming increasingly scarce as consumers shop less and turn to contactless payment methods, while the number of deposits from third-party coin processors has also declined. As a result, it's becoming increasingly common to see signs in stores telling customers that they will be unable to receive coin change for their purchases.

The U.S. Mint is now asking for Americans' help to resolve the coin supply issue. They're asking people to make payments in exact change or return spare change to circulation.

"We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk," the U.S. Mint said. "The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part."

Even select Chick-fil-a locations are trying to come up with a solution to the coin shortage by offering a free entree for every $10 in rolled coins customers provide.

The U.S. Mint also announced earlier this week that it is reducing the number of gold and silver coins it will distribute to authorized purchasers as the coronavirus has slowed production of the coins.

The U.S. Mint's West Point complex is anticipating slower coin production for the next 12 to 18 months. The complex is currently unable to produce gold and silver coins at the same time, thereby forcing them to choose one over the other based on demand. To gauge demand, the U.S. Mint is asking dealers for their 10-day and 90-day demand forecasts for the first time ever.

"The pandemic created a whole new set of challenges for us to manage," the U.S. Mint said. "We believe that this environment is going to continue to lead to some degree of reduced capacity as West Point struggles to balance employee safety against market demand."

The timing of the supply reduction couldn't come at a worse time for the U.S. Mint. With gold and silver prices continuing to surge, gold and silver coins have become increasingly difficult to buy on popular online retailers.

In regards to the coin shortage, it could end up leading people to question whether coins are really necessary anymore as they turn to contactless payment methods. If that does end up happening, it could become the latest example of the coronavirus forcing a change that may have been inevitable regardless.

Leftover Crumbs

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  • Goodbye plastic credit cards. JPMorgan is partnering with Marqeta to launch digital-only credit cards that can work in mobile wallets such as Apple Pay. The cards will be available beginning in 2021 and will initially be available only for commercial cards. JPMorgan didn't say if they intend to expand the offering to consumer users from its Chase business unit. "This is another way of getting virtual company cards into the hands of those who need them very quickly," head of commercial cards at JPMorgan John Skinner said. "We know there's a need for this product — what Covid has taught us is that there's more use cases for this than we imagined."

  • Facebook strikes back. Facebook is suing European Union antitrust regulators for excessive data requests in association with their investigations into the company's data and marketplace. Facebook says it has provided 315,000 documents to the regulators since 2016. "The exceptionally broad nature of the Commission’s requests means we would be required to turn over predominantly irrelevant documents that have nothing to do with the Commission’s investigations, including highly sensitive personal information such as employees’ medical information, personal financial documents, and private information about family members of employees," Facebook associate general counsel Tim Lamb said.

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