There are not enough 5, 10, and 20 cent Euro coins in circulation, with banks and traders reporting a general shortage of the coins in Belgium, trade federations Febelfin, Comeos, and Unzio warned in a joint statement on Thursday. They are now asking customers to make more electronic payments or to pay with exact change.
Small change is being used less and less in Belgium, partially as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Belgians are making more digital payments and shunning traditional payments.
This year, there were a record two billion cashless payments made in the country. Some 75.3% of Belgians now have some form of banking payment app on their phones. Cash payments, especially in small coins, are widely viewed as slow and redundant.
As a result of the war in Ukraine, European mints are running low on the materials needed to strike new coins, which is impeding governments in keeping the coins in circulation.
The trade federations want merchants to make their payments digitally wherever possible, and ask consumers to pay in cash, especially with the small denomination coins (5, 10 and 20 cents). These coins can be simply donated to charity, where they will eventually find their way back into circulation.
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Consumers with large amounts of these coins can also go to the bank to deposit them. Counters of the National Bank of Belgium (Boulevard de Berlaimont 3, Brussels) can exchange large quantities of loose coins for euro notes, free of charge.
Belgians are known to be cash hoarders, squirrelling away large amounts of physical currency in their homes.
According to statistics from the National Bank of Belgium, there is a staggering €48.4 billion stashed away in Belgian homes. This is equivalent to roughly €4,200 per household. Much of this is made up of coins.
Putting some of these loose change into the bank, or using it for everyday purchases, may prove advantageous for both merchants and families digging deep to keep up with rapidly rising prices in Belgian stores and supermarkets.