By Abram Molelemane
Do you have a collection of ‘brown money’ and other coins hoarded somewhere gathering dust and you don’t know what to do with them? Coin It!
The Big Green Coin Counting Machine, an innovation by a proudly South African company called Coin It Coin Exchange, might be just what you’re looking for.
This proudly South African innovation offers a quick, convenient and fun way to cash in accumulated coins as well as providing an important service to people or organisations that collect and accumulate coins. Clients include supermarkets, churches, pawn stores, gaming companies and any people who collect coins to provide for their families including car guards, beggars, street performers and so on.
The Big Green Coin Counting Machine is a product (and service) initiated, developed, distributed and operated by Coin It Coin Exchange. The machine is a proudly South African-made product, designed, developed and manufactured in Cape Town. Actual production began in April 2012, but planning had already begun in 2010 with Special Products and Technologies cc, the partner engineering company. Coin It! is the first of its kind in the South African market and the originators believe it fills a need for coin handling where limited solutions currently exist.
Founded in 2009 by entrepreneurs Emile Langenhoven and Willem Nieuwenhuis, Coin It! focus is on creating wealth where others do not see any. According to the founders, the Coin It! machine is essentially a coin recycler that helps keep coins in circulation, eliminating wastage of currency as well as lowering the economic and environmental costs associated with needlessly manufacturing new coins.
“About four years ago, I heard about a business in the US that took in coins and dispensed cash. I started looking at how coins were managed in South Africa by speaking to people and doing research, and found that it was a big problem and an inconvenience, to the extent that coins had lost their value. I was always told that the best businesses are the ones which solve a problem for people and make their lives more convenient. It was this, and my early childhood experience with coins, where I learned to save money through my hobby of collecting jars of coins, that inspired me to start the business, “explains Emile.
Emile says Coin It! caters for people who struggle to put food on the table, those whose core operations involve the accumulation of coins, or those who simply can’t stand how heavy their wallets are getting! In a South African context, Coin It! meets the needs of a large portion of the population who rely on coins to survive – whether through hand-outs, tips or savings, as well as charities that collect a lot of coins through tins at check-out points, for example. He adds that environmental factors are also a significant motivator behind the development of the Coin It! concept.
“Recycling coins means less impact on the environment. By recycling coins, we are able to significantly reduce coin production – this means a reduction in the carbon footprint from mining for raw materials, a reduction in water wastage in the mining and manufacturing process and less carbon emissions from shipping coins around the country,” he says.
The Coin It! process is quite simple: the consumer or customer pours his/her unsorted jar of coins into the designated area on top of the Coin It! machine, which then counts the coins (up to 600/minute), deducts a service charge of 12% and prints out a receipt. The consumer may use the receipt to purchase goods in a number of participating stores, or exchange the receipt for cash – quick, safe and convenient.
Although similar businesses exist in countries like the US, Canada and the UK, there are no such businesses in South Africa and possibly the African continent.
Emile notes that he would like to see Coin It! expanding to an extent where their machines are operating in all the major retail stores and wholesale stores nationally as well as linking up with banking institutions, so that customers can directly deposit coins into their bank accounts.
Currently the business has partnered with the Spar supermarket chain in its initial rollout phase. The company has also received several requests from countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Namibia that are interested in the product.
As of August 2013, Coin It! machines will be found in seven locations in the Western Cape, namely Bellville Kwikspar, Edgemead Superspar, Khayelitsha Superspar, Kraaifontein Superspar, Observatory (Obz) Kwikspar, Vangate Superspar and Zevenwacht Superspar.