George Osborne

Ben Pruchnie / Getty

LONDON — Former Chancellor George Osborne had a secret plan to get rid of 1p and 2p coins, but was stopped by then-Prime Minister David Cameron who worried the move would harm the image of the Conservative party, according to The Guardian.

Osborne reportedly came within weeks of scrapping coppers shortly after winning the general election in 2015, because they cost more to produce than they are worth and often go unused. Australia abolished one- and two-cent coins in 1992, which was generally well received by the public, although charities said people had less loose change to hand over.

Similar moves to eliminate the one-cent coin have been discussed in the United States, since they are produced at a loss, have limited usage and changes to prices would be minimal. But two proposed bills that included the move were defeated in 2001 and 2006.

Another controversial proposal discussed by the 2015 government was a plan to end all cash transactions by 2020, in an attempt to boost productivity and make some financial crimes — such as evading tax by not reporting earnings paid cash in hand — less viable.

The current Prime Minister of India has been pushing for a cashless society. He banned 85% of the country’s currency in November. Much of the population is now using new digitised systems that can be accessed with just a fingerprint or retina scan, although others have stuck to more traditional online banking.

Meanwhile, a survey by banking firm ING earlier this year showed that more than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go cashless, and that 34% of Europeans surveyed said they already rarely use cash. 

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