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March 29, 2021

Banks chasing small change to boost market share

Nearly everyone has spare change piling up in a jar or piggy bank, or lurking beneath the couch cushions. Now two major banks are starting to fight over those pennies in an effort to get you to switch accounts.

Coin Following the Toronto-Dominion Bank’s installation of automated coin-counting machines at 13 of its Ontario branches, Bank of Montreal is following suit, unveiling a plan to introduce dozens of the machines in new and renovated branches across Canada.

It’s not a new idea, of course. Lots of TD’s U.S. branches have “Penny Arcade” machines located inside bank branches.

The machines are the legacy of TD’s acquisition of Commerce Bancorp, which actually introduced them more than 10 years ago. The machines are quite popular and TD is hoping to replicate that success north of the border.

However, unlike the Canadian coin counters which resemble ATMs, those Arcade machines are geared toward children with sound effects and bright colours.

The Canadian machines don’t charge fees or take a percentage of the haul the way most generic coin counters in supermarkets and malls do, nor do they care if you're a customer (TD’s U.S. machines do, however, since they now ding non-customers). The catch is that you have to take your receipt to the teller in order to get paid.

At that point, bank staff will pitch you on opening an account, assuming you aren’t already a customer, or talk to you about making the bigger deposits needed to fund the lending operations that bring in higher-margin revenues.

If that friendly chat doesn’t appeal to you, local fundraising drives, especially school campaigns, are always looking for donors' spare change. And Tim Hortons depends heavily on those on point-of-sale coin collection boxes to fund its Children's Foundation. You can also use Coinstar machines to give to a number of charities.

What do you do with your loose change? Will you take it to the bank as these new machines roll out? Or do you haver other plans?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...