News & Events

News Hub

UK changes coin composition

Coins are widely used by consumers across the world, and it's important for businesses to keep up by investing in a coin counter and sorter that can help them speed payment processing times and streamline cash room processes. In recent years, governments across the world have tried to cut the costs associated with producing coins, as it has become more costly to manufacture them, a recent example of that being the United Kingdom's decision to alter the make-up of its coins.

New coin composition questioned
The United Kingdom is one of many places that has sought to limit spending on coins and introduced a new version of its five- and 10-pence pieces in January 2012. To cut costs, the composition of the coins was changed from 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel to nickel-plated steel. It was estimated the switch would result in annual savings of  £10​ million (US$15 million).

However, new research shows that while the move may have resulted in fewer coin production expenses, it may lead problems for those with skin conditions and allergies. Swedish researchers completed a study that found the high levels of nickel in the coins could leave those with nickel allergies or sensitivities vulnerable to eczema and contact dermatitis. These allergies affect one in 10 adults in the U.K., and this group of people is most vulnerable to developing a skin condition as a result of handling the coins too frequently. A new test showed people with sensitivities who handled the coins for an hour were exposed to four times the amount of nickel than they were when touching the old version of the coins.

In light of the research, some business owners may soon advise employees working cash registers to wear gloves with handling currency to ensure they don't develop skin problems from the increased nickel exposure. Others may request workers with nickel allergies perform other tasks to avoid contact with the coins as much as possible.

While the U.S. is another country that has investigated cost-cutting measures in regard to coin production, there is no evidence the government will make a switch similar to that seen in the U.K. and increase nickel content. This will allow business owners to continue permitting all workers to man cash registers and handle currency. It may also be a relief for parents whose nickel-sensitive children are avid coin savers and enjoy playing with change and depositing it into a coin counter kiosk.

June 12, 2013