A trifle is an expensive pleasure
The proverb “small spool, yes expensive” is beginning to take on more and more meaning. The production of small money is starting to cost the world so dearly that economically weak countries have long abandoned it, and the stronger ones are looking for options that would reduce the cost of small things at least to the level of their nominal value, but these efforts lead to funny results.
As soon as mankind invented money, how did he immediately encounter the need to somehow break it into smaller parts, because you won’t start giving the same money for a cow and chicken? However, it quickly became clear that it was not so easy to divide the main (usually gold or silver) coin into shares. As a result, the ancient Greeks, for example, had to use coins of about two dozen denominations. After a series of reforms and troubles, the Roman Caesars managed to reduce the variety of coins to five denominations from the largest – aureus to the smallest – ace (400 aces were considered in one aureus). Inattention to a small coin, as a rule, cost dear rulers: before the modern monetary system developed, more than one state was shocked by outbreaks of social discontent caused by this reason.
However, the development of the economy caused such an unpleasant phenomenon as inflation, which means the depreciation of money. It got to the point that coins like an old man began to value in weight, since the material from which they were made was worth more than the denomination indicated on them. And today, for example, in the USA, on every coin of one cent, the state loses 2.41 cents, and the production of nickel with a face value of five cents costs 11, 18 cents more than the face value. Every year, the country’s Mint loses $ 116.7 million on this difference!
The solution, in principle, has long been known: you just need to reduce the weight and volume of coins or switch to cheaper raw materials for them. In contrast to the Middle Ages, when such liberties cost issuers (which, as a rule, were concurrently and rulers) rather expensive – it was possible to pay with a crown, today society is calmly referring to such innovations. Alas, you cannot call such a simple substitution, because it is necessary not only to solve a lot of technological issues, starting from the selection of new material to the logistics of freshly minted coins, but also to provide for the complexity of counterfeiting such money.
You can’t completely abandon the little things: in contrast to the underdeveloped economies, where the cheapest goods or services can be valued in units, or even tens of local currency units, in developed economies entire sectors can be tied to the use of small fractions of the main currency.
States get out as they can – and sometimes this leads to very curious consequences. So, for example, when the Swedish Mint set out to replace the usual coins with those made of steel coated with nickel, dermatologists from Sweden reared up. According to them, the nickel coating could cause skin irritation, especially in people suffering from dermatitis, and the mint retreated.
But in Britain, they did not pay attention to the objections of doctors and, in order to reduce the cost of production, switched to nickel coins with a steel core – and then they ran into another problem. A new trifle, not a bit different in design, is much more “slimmer” than its predecessors from traditional nickel silver and vending machines (for the sake of which, in fact, it makes sense to keep metal money in circulation – after all, any store is ready to accept payment using bank cards) simply refuse to accept these dubious circles!
They are trying to find a Solomon solution in such a way as to completely abandon the little things, while preserving, however, the ability to use inexpensive goods and services, as well as a huge fleet of vending machines. The mint of this country has announced a competition for the creation of MintChip – a device that would allow you to pay for small operations like making a phone call or acquiring a cup of coffee in the same machine.
At first glance, the Canadian initiative looks a little strange, because there are plastic cards: know yourself, integrate payment terminals into vending machines – is that it? However, those considerations interfere here, firstly, rather complicated international payment systems are involved in servicing plastic cards, and it would not happen that servicing one penny transaction will fly into a full dime. Secondly, today the theft of plastic cards and PIN codes to them using special devices installed by fraudsters at ATMs has taken on a planetary character – and what will happen if hi-tech thieves get at their disposal more vending machines, which are more not an order of magnitude, but an order of magnitude?