Banks roll out coin-counting machines in Greater Victoria

Penny's demise spurs demand for machines

There are jarfuls of loose coins in almost everyone’s home these days and TD Canada Trust is the latest to provide the machinery to put that ornamental money to practical use.

The bank has introduced four automatic coin counter machines to Greater Victoria TD branches as part of a launch of 300 machines across the country. There is also a machine in Sooke and two in Nanaimo as part of a 56-machine network in B.C. The Greater Victoria locations are at 1080 Douglas St., 2945 Jacklin Rd., 182 Wilson St. and 309 Burnside Road W.

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“This is part of our ongoing commitment to comfort and convenience for our customers … this is the next step,” said Kash Sheikh, TD Canada Trust’s district vice-president for Vancouver Island. “The timing is good right now with the phasing out of the penny and people have been thinking about what they would do with their change.”

The Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing pennies in February. While retailers may still be taking coppers, banks have started collecting and shipping them off to be melted and recycled. That has spurred people to action.

Jim Endersbe, branch manager for TD Canada Trust’s downtown branch, said there was always a steady stream of people bringing in coins to be exchanged for bills or to be deposited, but the demise of the penny has increased the flow.

“It has ramped up,” he said. “With the penny gone, people are thinking they don’t need these anymore.”

Endersbe said the coin machines save time for consumers who no longer have to count and roll the coins and eases the workload of frontline staff.

The machine near the entrance to the downtown branch drew stares Friday when a reporter emptied the pennies, dimes and nickels collected in his car’s receptacles. After a few buttons were pushed, a voucher was issued for $12.36.

For a TD Canada Trust customer, that $12.36 could be redeemed for cash or deposited in an account at no charge.

Non-customers pay eight per cent and small businesses pay three per cent to use the machine.

It took less than three minutes to go from dumping a bag of coins to seeing the money.

Reaction from customers in a tellers’ line ranged from “cool, I am going home to get my change” to “hmm, I’m not sure I trust it to count.”

Endersbe said reaction has been overwhelmingly positive since the machine was brought in Wednesday.

The machine accepts U.S. coins and treats them as though they are Canadian currency, but it will reject others. The reporter’s single Thai coin was spat out with the voucher.

Sheikh said TD’s research shows 69 per cent of Canadians avoid paying with change, they don’t like to carry it and would rather use debit or credit cards. He also noted 96 per cent of Canadians have an idea of how much change they have at home, with 27 per cent claiming to have at least $50.

“And they can use this change for anything — pay down debt, apply to credit cards, a loan payment or put in an RESP,” he said.

TD Canada Trust is not the first to roll out coin counters.

Bank of Montreal established a network of machines in 2011. It has 72 in Canada and 11 in B.C., one of which is in Langford — and offer the service at no charge. In its first year, BMO’s coin counters dealt with 54 million coins, totalling more than $7 million in loose change. In that mix were 142 million pennies, or $1.42 million.

Island Savings also introduced a machine at its Duncan branch in December 2011 and now has seven in its network. The credit union charges five per cent for members and 10 per cent for non-members.

There are also private companies such as Cash Your Coin and Coinstar that offer machines to retailers to keep in their stores. There are no Island locations for either company.

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