Here's an idea that I've thought about on and off. Figure I'd throw it out here and get some opinions and feedback. We all know how much of a pain it is to keep coins around. They are dirty, heavy, and cumbersome to use. We also know that there are quite a few people out there who are opposed to a completely electronic currency system. So here's a compromise.
Let me introduce the National Change Card (NCC). This card would be a government-issued card that would keep track of your change up to $0.99. Because the NCC can hold only a small amount of money, there is very little risk of fraud and also there are virtually no big brother issues. Basically, whenever you purchase something using cash, you'd hand them cash plus the NCC. Any amount that would typically have been returned as coinage would not be deposited onto your NCC. Say you purchased a $1.90 item. Now, you'd have $0.10 on your NCC. Now, say you were to purchase a $24.08 item and you handed the cashier $25, you would receive a $1 bill and your NCC balance would now be $0.02. If you forget to bring your NCC, you could simply type in the official NCC number along with a pin code. If an NCC was ever lost or stolen, you are out at most $0.99, plus any fees you'd pay to get a new one. The various state DMV offices could take care of these issues.
Implementing the NCC would remove the need for the government to mint coins. And, there would simply be more efficient use of money, which would be seen as an uptick in consumer spending. These two points alone should be enough to offset any costs associated with issuing and maintaining an NCC for everyone. Visitors to our country could be issued temporary cards or a system could be set up to allow use of passports from different countries in lieu of the Change Card.
The government could certainly push the cost savings towards bettering education or any number of worthwhile projects. What do you think of the NCC? What are potential problems and pitfalls? Could they be resolved?