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Bank of Estonia and Ominva to prolong coin exchange service

Euro two-cent coins.
Euro two-cent coins. Source: Jonathan Brinkhorst/Unsplash

The Bank of Estonia (Eesti Pank) and state-owned postal service Omniva say they are continuing a coin exchange service, which has proved popular during its trial period, which ran from September to the present.

The scheme involves members of the public returning coins of any denomination – in practice the smallest one- and two-cent denominations are most-used – to selected Omniva post offices.

This is done at an automated machine; the coins then re-enter circulation, reducing the need for minting more.

Coins can be exchanged for bills at the Tallinn Järve and Tartu Kvartali Omniva post offices, for a small service fee.

Eesti Pank and Omniva agreed to continue the campaign into the new year following its relative success, after plenty of coins continue to be returned even with the small service fee to take into account.

The public has engaged enthusiastically with the campaign, the central bank says.

Margit Ratnik, Head of New Services at Omniva, said: "There is still a lot of engagement from the public with this service, and there are people heading to the Tallinn Järve and Tartu Kvartali post offices with their coins on a daily basis."

Coin machines are self service, and the ensuing receipt can either be used to make purchases inside the Ominva office, or exchanged for larger denominations.

5 Omniva plans to continue the coin exchange service at the two post offices until the rounding rules have been decided. Given that producing one and two-cent coins has a significant environmental impact but the coins rarely return to circulation, Eesti Pank considers that introducing rounding rules for one and two-cent coins would be a lasting solution for the efficient circulation of coins.

The project follows calls for rounding-up rules for one- and two-cent coins in Estonia, currently at consultation stage.

The proposed rounding rules would mean that the final price of a basket of goods would be rounded up to the nearest five cents at the cashpoint, though only if the buyer is paying in cash.

The coin collection program has been running for three months and has so far taken in over 3 million coins, two-thirds of which are the one and two-cent denominations, the bank says.

Rait Roosve, head of the cash and infrastructure department at the Bank of Estonia, said these coins were reintroduced into circulation.

he coins returned most have been one and two-cent coins, which have "Every additional coin that is brought back is one new coin fewer that the Bank of Estonia needs to produce. This reduces the environmental footprint of coin circulation a little and reduces the cost to the central bank of making the coins", Roosve went on, expressing gratitude for the public's willingness to help out here.

A sufficient volume of coins were collected during the campaign for the Bnk of Estonia to cover the average demand for coins for a three-month period, the central bank added.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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