• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Small town's big plan to ditch small change
A shop's cash draw with the spaces for one- and two-cent coins empty. Photo: DPA

Small town's big plan to ditch small change

Tom Barfield · 1 Feb 2016, 14:54

Published: 01 Feb 2016 14:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2016 14:54 GMT+01:00

From February 1st, any customers paying for their goods in cash in retailers participating in the scheme will see prices rounded up or down to the nearest five cents.

The North Rhine-Westphalia community action is the first time anyone has tried removing the coins in Germany, the German Trade Association (HDE) told DPA.

The initiative comes from Klever City Netzwerk (KCN), an association of small retail businesses in the 50,000-population town.

They argue that with many banks now charging customers to deposit large numbers of the low-value coins, it's simply not worth their time and money to handle them.

But there's a benefit for customers as well, in that "it's simpler and faster when paying in cash," KCN spokeswoman Ute Marks told The Local on Monday.

Customers who insist on exact change – or paying using one- and two-cent coins - will still be able to ask for it, she emphasised, but added that few are expected to do so.

Local businesses on board

According to Marks, around 60 businesses have so far signed up – but KCN hopes to get up to around 150, matching their current membership, within a few weeks.

So far, most of the participating shops are locally-owned ones rather than the bigger chains present in the town, such as the Aldi supermarket.

A shop owner displays a sign reading "Dear customers, we are rounding!" in Kleve, North Rhine-Westphalia, on February 1st. Photo: DPA

"Some [business owners] think the technical side will be difficult and others wonder how it will work with financial reporting to the authorities," Marks said.

"It's less that people don't want to take part, but that they want to keep clean books."

"So far we've had very positive reactions," Intersport Kleve shop manager Christof Dammers told DPA on Monday at around midday.

Thrifty Dutch neighbours

Marks explained that the move to do away with one- and two-cent coins within the city limits was inspired by Kleve's proximity to the Netherlands.

The town is one of the westernmost in Germany, just across the border from the Dutch town of Nijmegen.

Some people on the German side had been doing shopping across the border for years without realizing that prices in the Netherlands were being rounded up or down to the nearest five cents, Marks said.

And the Netherlands have been joined by Finland, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland in removing the smallest coins from circulation since the introduction of the Euro.

"The Dutch are a very thrifty people and they wouldn't have gone ahead with it if there were disadvantages for either [customers or retailers]," Marks said.

KCN plans to have mathematicians from the local university follow up with the businesses participating in the scheme to see whether it's made any difference to their ledgers.

Rest of Germany to follow?

Meanwhile, the Lower Rhine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) told The Local that they were watching the experiment in Kleve "with great interest".

Story continues below…

"It's hard to predict how far customers will accept this," IHK manager for Duisburg, Wesel and Kleve Michael Rüscher told The Local.

"If the small-scale test in Kleve works, retailers in other cities will certainly pick up on the idea."

Rüscher agreed with KCN spokeswoman Marks that bank fees for processing the small coins were to blame for the move.

As for Marks, she hopes that Kleve will repeat the success of their predecessors in the Netherlands.

"In the Netherlands, one small town of 50,000 people - like Kleve - introduced this and then the whole country followed.

"It wouldn't be so bad if in 11 years we looked back and then realized that it all began in Kleve," Marks said.

SEE ALSO: Germany dropping old-style bank details

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
What is the link between the attacks in Germany last week?
Police on guard in Munich. Photo: DPA

And how likely are 'copycat' attacks?

Rights experts call for calm after string of violent attacks
Bavaria has called for soldiers to protect the German border. Photo: DPA

Human rights groups and legal experts are warning the government to react responsibly to the attacks and rampages which have taken place in Germany in recent days.

France church attacker had been arrested in Germany
Photo: DPA

A neighbour described the man as a "ticking time bomb".

Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

German Olympic champion savages 'pro-doping' IOC
Robert Harting. Photo: DPA

Olympic discus champion Robert Harting on Tuesday launched a verbal attack on compatriot Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, for the IOC's stance on state-run Russian doping.

Man gets life in jail for murder of two young children
Silvio Schulz. Photo: DPA

A former security guard was handed a life sentence Tuesday for murdering two children, one of them a four-year-old Bosnian boy snatched from a crowded migrant registration centre last year.

Munich shooting
German Turks mourn Munich shooting victims
Flowers for the victims. Photo: DPA

Seven of the nine victims were Muslim.

Doctor killed in Berlin hospital shooting: police
Police at the scene in southern Berlin. Photo: DPA

A doctor has died after being shot at a Berlin hospital by an elderly man, Berlin police said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The Local List
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts

These hidden spots are steeped in shadows of their past and just begging to be explored...

Berlin refugee teen prepares to swim at the Olympics
Photo: DPA

Eighteen-year-old refugee Yusra Mardini has pulled a boat of 20 refugees from the middle of the Aegean to the Greek shore. Now she's preparing to swim at the Olympics.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,756
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd