Mobile top-up vendors stagger under weight of coins
KHON KAEN - Operators of vending machines that allow people to top up their mobile phone accounts have asked provincial offices of the comptroller general in the Northeast to help them convert millions of baht in small change they collect into banknotes.
- Published: 11/07/2013 at 01:42 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Stacks of sacks of coins that cannot be exchanged at the Khon Kaen Provincial Comptroller General's Office.
They complain they have to truck tonnes of coins to the Royal Mint in Bangkok because no local agencies can exchange the huge volume of small change they accumulate into banknotes.
The problem was outlined by Kittisak Komolsiriwattana, advisory chairman of Udon Phone Techno Partnership Ltd and representative of the operators of the vending machines.
He said the vending operators could previously exchange the coins at provincial offices of the comptroller general. Recently, operators in 12 upper northeastern provinces had been asked to exchange their coins only in Khon Kaen.
Although the Government Savings Bank in each province still exchanges the coins, it limits transactions to only 5,000 baht per person.
"The problem is the Khon Kaen office does not have sufficient cash reserves, so it has set a quota for vending machines, limiting each operator to one million baht a week.
"The remaining coins cannot be exchanged into banknotes," said Mr Kittisak, who said he regularly takes around five million baht to the office and has to take back four million baht.
He has solved that problem by hiring a truck to transport all the remaining coins to Bangkok and exchanges them at the Royal Thai Mint each month, around 16-20 million baht each time .
Besides the transportation cost, Mr Kittisak said, operators also do not get the full value because of damaged coins, which costs them about 10% of the value on average.
"Operators have never complained about not getting the full value, as they think of the deducted money as a contribution to the government budget, for spending on the country's development," he said.
His inquiries to the provincial comptroller general's office resulted in three explanations - the office is afraid that the 100 million baht in banknotes it holds may not be sufficient for distribution over the region, too few coin sorting machines, and shortage of staff.
The office assured him it had requested extra staff, but said there had been no increase so far.
Mr Kittisak asked the government to help solve the problem. 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, he said.
An official sorts and weighs coins to ascertain their value. Operators of vending machines that allow people to top up their mobile phone accounts have asked provincial offices of the comptroller general in the Northeast to help them convert millions of baht in small change into banknotes.
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- Writer: Online Reporters