The Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) estimates that at least J$100 million in one- 10- and 25-cent coins, the ‘red’ money, is ‘lost in circulation’ in the Jamaican economy, and has partnered with GraceKennedy (GK) Money Service in a recovery drive.
The BOJ contends that a significant portion of this money is actually just sitting there, waiting to be claimed, like buried treasure.
In a series of press advertisements titled ‘Change Your Coins to Cash – For Free’, the BOJ urges Jamaicans to bring in the coins, informing that “all these cents can make you big dollars and that makes sense”.
“Bring in your coins – legal tender and demonetised – to redeem for face value with no service charge. Come directly to Bank of Jamaica, or utilise our convenient coin sorting and counting machines at the 11 select GK Money Services locations islandwide,” the advertisement urges.
There are a number of GK Money Service outlets in the Corporate Area where the coins are easily exchanged, since they are sorted and counted by newly installed machines. Under the deal with GK, the central bank has waived the eight per cent user fee for the transactions.
“The machines we had in the past were not as easily operated as this one,” explained Yolande Gyles Levy, communication and sponsorship manager for GK Money Service.
“If you are tech-savvy, you can operate the new ones yourselves; with the older ones you couldn’t. We had to wait until we brought in these newer machines before we could penetrate the island. We are trying to have at least one in each parish, but for now Portland and St Mary are still without.”
Not Cost effective
“At current prices, it now costs more to make these coins than they are worth, and so continuing them is no longer economically viable and the country will save money by discontinuing them,” the central bank advised.
It costs J$1.73 to make a one-cent coin, J$1.54 to make a 10-cent coin and almost two dollars, J$1.96, to manufacture each 25-cent coin. By contrast, it costs less than $3 to make each $5 and $10 coin, and less than $10 to make the $20 coin.
And while the $1 coin is also no longer cost-effective to manufacture, at a cost of J$2.30 per coin, the BOJ says it has no intention to withdraw it from circulation at this time, based on its heavy usage. However, it has begun a review of the design with a view to using less expensive material to make it.