One of the biggest parts of any discussion on changing the composition of coins has to take vending machine into consideration. If the vending machine canít recognize your coins, you arenít going to get that Snickers bar you have been craving all day. The vending industry is the heart and soul of this particular discussion and cannot be neglected.
The electromagnetic signatures of our current coins are all based on copper and if the Mint changes this composition to some other material, that EMS signature is going to change and there are going to be serious impacts on the vending industry. Consider what would happen if you had two quarters to feed in the vending machine.
The first quarter is one that will work in the machine, the other quarter has a different composition and will not work in that old vending machine. You arenít going to get that candy bar. this is going to make you one frustrated buyer. One report submitted to the U.S. Mint by Concurrent Technologies Corp. of Johnstown, Pa. states that more than 4.8 million vending machines would have to be upgraded in some fashion.
This would have to happen if the coin compositions for the nickel, dime or quarter changed. Any vending machine made before 1986 would have to be replaced rather than being upgraded The cost to the vending machine industry for the conversions would depend on the compositions selected for the new coins.
Vending machine cost estimates for changes in the nickel, dime, or quarter is estimated at $257 million for the ďdura-white-plated zinc and 302HQ stainless steelĒ and $514 million for the plated steel. One point the report emphasized was that if vending machine prices were increased by 5 cents then the vending industry would be fully paid back for its costs in less than a year.
One thing is for certain the hunt for a suitable composition is more than likely to continue. One proposal is to abolish our own mint and contract the process out to the Canadian Mint. Many other questions still need to be answered such as: Should the cent be abolished? Should the composition of the nickel be changed to a cheaper alloy? should other denominations be changed as well as long as we are making decisions regarding the cent and nickel?
Whatever your feelings are on these questions are, I am sure that you would agree that dragging this process out over many years is not the smartest way to go about it