Monday, May 21, 2007

Dollar Coins

Has the government done any product management on its currency product?

Since 1971, the U.S. government has made several attempts to ween its citizens off of paper currency (dollar bills) and onto coins. In many other developed countries, similar denominations of currency have been coins, not paper. Supposedly, the similarity of dollar coins to quarters has been one reason that dollar coins have not gained popular acceptance.

If the government were to gather requirements for a currency product, what would they be? What would the use cases be? What would the attributes and constraints attached to these use cases be?

Some of the use cases might be:
  • Pay for Goods
  • Carry Money
  • Withdraw Money
  • Deposit Money

Some of the attributes might be:

  • Fit (Does it fit comfortably in pockets/wallets/purses?)
  • Weight (Does carrying a lot of it around weigh you down?)
  • Durability (How well does it withstand the elements and time?)
  • Identifiability (How easy is it to distinguish relative to other currency?)
I am personally sensitive to the fit and weight of currency. I don't like the feel of a lot of change in my pockets, and I can't stuff a lot of coins in my wallet.

1 comment :

George said...

I think they did do their research. The Susan B. Anthony was a disaster because of its similarity to the quarter, but the Sacajawea dollar should have addressed all the requirements. I think Americans just aren't that receptive to changes in the currency. Americans are just very conservative about our cash - the new, "big head" bills still don't look like real money to me. And, there really isn't a strong reason for consumers to adopt the dollar coin - it makes a lot of sense for the government, but not the consumers.

And, bear in mind, that issuing the new dollar coins requires coordination with everybody else. All the vending machines, toll booths, cashier trays, etc... have to be ready to accept the new currency, so there's a huge barrier to entry.