September 10, 2013 – Using coins extensively in daily life can create problems if it does not meet an adequate infrastructure. In Thailand recharging mobile phones by paying with coins at vending machines is very favoured. As long as the vending machine operators were able to exchange these coins into banknotes locally they accepted without complaint the charges imposed by the bank.
However, recently operators in the north-eastern provinces were instructed to exchange their coins exclusively in the city of Khon Kaen. While this was a certain nuisance already things got worse. First, of course, the logistical aspect. Transporting the coins costs money and is always a risk. But, above all, in Khon Kaen the office permits only to exchange up to 1 million baht per week and person. The advisory chairman of Udon Phone Techno Partnership Ltd. and the representative for the local Khon Kaen region vending machine operators, Kittisak Komolsiriwattana, said, he regularly took 5 million baht to the office but could exchange only 1 million, the rest he had to take back.
The only solution was to transport all the coins to The Royal Thai Mint in Bangkok where no limit of exchange is imposed. But this is really expensive and as Mr Kittisak stated: ‘Vending machine operators could tolerate the current situation, but were worried about possible problems in terms of accident or robbery while they are transporting the money to Bangkok.’
Apparently staff shortage, shortage of coin sorting machines for handling these masses of coins and also shortage of banknotes caused the new regulation.
You can read a detailed article by Richard Giedroyc at Numismaster.