The United Kingdom’s Royal Mint will stop producing its two-pence and £2 coins for at least a decade as supplies of both circulation denominations have far outpaced demand.
While the mint is required to continuously maintain a roughly 11-week supply of coins, this March, it had 88 weeks worth of two-pence coins and 286 weeks worth of £2 coins—enough to last a year to five years, respectively. But because these coins are underused, the mint believes it would take at least 10 years to deplete its stocks of both denominations.
A Sept. 18 report from the National Audit Office (NAO), the United Kingdom’s independent public-spending auditor, also found cash payments dropped 59 per cent compared to 10 years ago, when physical currency was used in six of every 10 transactions. Today, just three of every 10 transactions are made using cash (and this could fall to one in 10 by 2028, researchers warn). Altogether, there’s a forecasted 65 per cent reduction in cash use from 2018 looking ahead to 2028.
“As society progresses towards the wide use of digital payments, the use of cash in transactions is dwindling,” said Gareth Davies, comptroller and auditor general of the NAO. “It may become harder for people to access cash when they need it and those without the means to pay digitally will struggle if cash is not accepted.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has only spurred the decline in market demand for notes and coins. Between early March and mid-April, demand decreased by 71 per cent (although it “has since been recovering,” according to the NAO report).