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Lawmakers once again renew push to eliminate dollar bill

An updated coin counting machine may be even more important for businesses in the coming years if U.S. lawmakers succeed in their renewed attempt to eliminate the dollar bill. While talk of switching the paper currency out for a dollar coin has been a popular subject for years, officials in Washington have just reintroduced their campaign to make the swap a reality.

Politicians stress cost savings of coins
Officials and nonpartisan groups have long touted the benefits of replacing dollar bills with a dollar coin. One advantage would be significant cost savings. A report from the Government Accountability Office released in 2011 revealed the government could save $5.5 billion if it transitioned from dollar bills to dollar coins. However, a newer report indicates there are even greater cost savings to be had. Consumer group Council for Citizens Against Government Waste recently revealed switching from low-denomination bills to coins could actually save $13.8 billion over 30 years.

"It seems to me this one common sense remedy certainly won't change the equation entirely," said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who introduced the legislation. "But even in this town, $5.5 billion or $13.8 billion is not chump change."

The savings could stem from the fact that coins have a much longer lifecycle than paper bills. Reports indicate that paper currency needs to be replaced approximately every four years, compared with 30 years for coins.

Other benefits prevalent
Besides the significant savings that would be experienced after a switch, advocates have also claimed coins hold other advantages. Those who are visually impaired can more easily distinguish and use coins, making money management simpler for those with disabilities. Additionally, the environmentally conscious have pointed out that dollar bills cannot be recycled and is therefore wasteful once a bill has become unusable. According to USA Today, the amount of trash generated by shredding old currency equals the amount of trash 345,000 Americans create in a year.

If lawmakers can finally be successful in their latest attempt to replace paper dollars with coins, consumers and business owners will notice a significant change. Not only will shoppers be forced to accept the coins, which they've been slow to do in the past, but retailers may need to invest in coin counters that will help them handle the increased number of transactions that are paid for with dollar change.

July 30, 2013