Mint tries, tries again with dollar coin

The U.S. Mint will be issuing new dollar coins starting around President’s Day. With the failures of the Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollars it’s unlikely that the new presidential coins will do any better. The presidential series has the additional issue that some presidents aren’t well-liked.

Until vending machines, parking meters and other coin operated machines readily accept the coins people won’t see a reason to use them over the dollar bill. The manufacturers of these machines (and more importantly, their buyers) won’t see a need to accept the coins until a significant portion of their customers adopt the coins.

The only way to ensure adoption is to withdraw the paper dollar from circulation, which Congress has been reluctant to do.

Also working against the coins is the credit card companies and their continuing efforts to get people to use credit cards for low value transactions by using RFID technology or waiving signature requirements. Some examples:

  • As municipalities replace individual parking meters with a machine on each block, more of them are accepting credit cards. (Parking meters are the primary machines that drive my coin usage.)
  • At the AOL cafeteria VISA and MasterCard transactions under $25 don’t require a signature.
  • Mass transit systems now accept credit cards, even for single fares.

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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