Our change/bill rounding initiative kicks in soon

The nationwide initiative kicks in on 28 October
The nationwide initiative kicks in on 28 October

Ireland is hoping to stop spending millions on pennies from the end of the month.

The country's Central Bank confirmed plans to go nationwide with a scheme which allows retailers to round bills to the nearest five cents with the consent of shoppers.

Since the euro was introduced in 2001 Ireland has spent €37 million issuing one and two cent coins - minting the coppers at three times the rate of the rest of the eurozone.

But the initiative to reduce the need for coppers is voluntary and consumers will retain the right to pay the exact bill and request their exact change.

Ronnie O'Toole, of the Central Bank, said: "The reaction so far to rounding has been fantastic.

"As a country we are good at making changes like this. We migrated to the euro ahead of most other countries, and the indications so far are that consumers and retailers alike will embrace rounding."

The Central Bank insisted rounding would only apply to cash transactions and not to credit card, electronic or cheque payments and it would also only be used on the final cash total of a bill and not to individual goods.

As examples it said final bills ending in one and two cents or six and seven cents would be rounded down to the nearest five and those ending in three and four cents or eight and nine cents would be rounded up.

Other rules on the rounding scheme include that one and two cent coins remain legal tender.

The nationwide initiative kicks in on October 28.

It follows a successful trial in Wexford in 2013, which showed that 85% of consumers and 100% of retailers in Wexford who expressed an opinion wanted rounding rolled out nationally.

Read: Bad news for one and two cent coins following government trial results.

In May of 2013, the European Commission tabled several scenarios for the withdrawal of the one and two cent coins, with the cost of printing these coins greater than their use.

"The production of 1 and 2 cent coins is clearly a loss-making activity for the euro area with the difference between the face value of the coins and the price paid by the state to get them pointing at an estimated total cumulative loss of €1.4 billion since 2002," the commission said in a press release.
Five EU member states, including the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Hungary have already adopted a similar policy. 
CEO of Wexford Chamber of Commerce, Madeleine Quirke, said the trial was hugely successful with businesses and consumers alike.
"We have had very little resistance from customers or businesses... as far as we are concerned it has been a massive success," she said.
"We would welcome a nationwide roll-out and feel the time and expense spared by businesses will serve the economy well in the long run."