Fed Chair Powell: coronavirus has led to shortage of physical cash at U.S. banks

U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers on Wednesday that circulation of physical U.S. coinage slowed to a near halt at some banks as the coronavirus and efforts to fight it kept Americans at home.

Discussion over the scarcity of coinage came after Representative John Rose, for Tennessee state, said banks in his state reported smaller-than-usual sums of coinage each week and were concerned about their continued ability to distribute cash. The spread of coronavirus led to a surge in contactless payments and more limited cash circulation as more Americans sheltered in place and shopped online.

Powell said the U.S. central bank has been made aware shortages. He said: “the flow of coins through the economy has … kind of stopped. The places where you’d go to give your coins and get credit … those have not been working. So, a whole system of flow has kind of come to a stop.”

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