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Small coins lose currency value as inflation bites

business Updated: Sep 18, 2013 03:12 IST
Sachin Kumar

Remember the last time you saw a 25 paise or a 50 paise coin?

Rising inflation has added yet another casualty to its list— the athanni and chavanni, immortalised in Bollywood songs as the pennies and dimes of India. The 25-paise coin (chavanni) is no longer legal tender, and the 50-paise athanni seems headed there.

With high prices eroding their purchasing power, small coins are gradually losing relevance in the nation. The share of 50 paise and 25 paise in the number of total coins in circulation declined to 17.5% at 14,788 million at the end of March 2013 from 52% at 54,738 million at the end of March 2010, according to RBI data.

The total number of coins in circulation in India, including 50 paise, Re. 1, Rs. 2, Rs. 5 and Rs. 10, stood at 84,727 million units at the end of March 2013.

“In our bank we have upda–ted our software in such a way that if the amount payable to a customer has 50 paise in it, the software rounds it off to the nearest rupee,” an official of a public sector bank said.

The 25 paise coin ceased to be legal tender from August 2011 and is out of circulation. However, the share of the Re. 1 coin has gone up to 42% at 35,884 million in 2013 from 28% at 29,461 million in 2010.

“Neither shopkeepers nor customers care for the balance 50 paise because it has no value now,” said Nitin Nautiyal, founder, Hear Pictures — a production house located in New Delhi’s Hauz Khas area.

“Customers do not accept 50 paise coin as a balance saying it has no utility,” said Varghese K, owner of Cochin Arc, a store in Navi Mumbai’s Kharghar area. “There are less than 10 transactions a month involving 50 paise coins.”