You can now mint money selling coins, since supermarkets have resorted to buying from willing sellers.
Although selling coins is illegal, the supermarkets have resorted to this rather unorthodox means following a biting shortage.
The retailers are looking for ways of guaranteeing their supply of coins by buying the coins at the rate the seller is willing to offer.
Supermarkets are often forced to part with Sh50 for every Sh1,000 shillings in the form of coins.
The selling rates go as high as Sh100 depending on what the seller is willing to take.
Mr Victor Getono, a supervisor at one of the Ukwala branches, said that they have been forced to deal with their “regular coin suppliers” who come from the slums because banks no longer supply them with coins.
“When the shortage started we would get people bringing in coins without asking for anything in return. But they soon started asking for ‘something small’. In order to maintain our constant supply of coins we were forced to start buying the coins,” he said.
The coins are usually bought from water vendors in Korogocho, Kariobangi and Mukuru slums. Hawkers, beggars, sweet vendors and some city council public toilets have also been identified as the main selling points.
Mr John Kamau from Nakumatt supermarket says willing sellers are mostly hawkers, beggars and sweet vendors who line up at the supermarkets at night to sell them coins.
“They ask you if you want to buy coins, and if you feel the rates are too high, they confidently leave because they know they will definitely find a buyer elsewhere,” said Mr Kamau.
Order in advance
One is either required to place an order in advance or part with double the actual amount the coins are selling at. Steve, a waiter at a fast food restaurant said that you cannot find coins after mid-day if you had not booked in advance.
“The business starts at about 6am, and the people who book in advance get the first priority,” he told the Nation.
Initially, customers would end up taking sweets, matchboxes or Sh5 airtime. Supermarkets then launched individual appeals requesting customers to bring coins. But now customers charge for the coins.
“If you want the coins, I will sell them to you at Sh100 for every Sh1,000 I give you,” a woman cashier in one of the public toilets said.
“Nowadays there are no free coins. If you want the free one look elsewhere,” another cashier in a different toilet said.
Last year, the CBK blamed the public for hoarding coins in their homes, offices or cars.
It then assured the public that coins would continue to be issued through the commercial banks to fully meet the demand.
Later, CBK launched a campaign urging Kenyans to surrender the coins they had been hoarding. They later announced that they had collected a lot of coins from the campaign.
Two weeks prior to the launch of the CBK campaign, representatives from all the supermarkets countrywide had met the CBK management regarding the shortage of coins.
Mr Joshua Were, an administration manager at Ukwala Supermarket said that although they had informed the CBK of the shortage, the bank had only given them the promise that they were doing something.
He however says that they have not officially informed CBK that they were buying coins.