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🪙 Who has spare change?

The Hustle

Humans aren’t the only ones fed up with inflation. Zookeepers at an aquarium near Tokyo reportedly purchased cheaper fish to cut down on costs — and penguins are refusing to eat it.

In today’s email:

  • Spare change: Where’d it all go?
  • Chart: South Korea’s robot workforce.
  • Weekend Reads for your Saturday morning coffee.
  • Around the Web: The women of grunge, a free design library, an adorable foal, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear Zack and Mark discuss the origins of the “stop buying lattes so you can afford a house” myth, and how the burden of saving for retirement wasn’t always placed on employees.

The big idea
quarter spinning

Where the heck is all our change?

If you live in an apartment building with coin-operated laundry, then you probably know how hard it is to get quarters these days.

But according to the US Mint, we don’t have a coin shortage but “a circulation problem.” And it’s been ongoing since spring of 2020.

What’s the deal?

Cash transactions were already on the decline in 2019 as consumers switched to electronic payments. The pandemic exacerbated this as retailers and consumers turned to online shopping or contact-free card and app transactions.

When people did make the rare cash purchase, they were more likely to keep their change than use it in a subsequent transaction.

The US Coin Task Force, formed specifically to address the issue, reported in May 2021 that much of the nation’s $48.5B in coins were sitting in America’s 128m households.

Meanwhile, the inability to get change hurts:

  • People who rely on cash transactions, such as those who don’t have traditional banking accounts or smartphones
  • People who need coins for laundry, vending machines, or meters — one Boston man said he tried multiple Bank of America branches to find quarters for laundry and came out empty-handed

Minting more coins won’t help

In 2021, the Mint produced 14.5B coins, and is on pace to produce another 13B this year, Todd Martin, deputy chief of corporate communications for the US Mint, told The Hustle.

But new coins typically account for less than 20% of coins in circulation each year.

And because the majority of coins still circulate through the economy via transactions and coin recycling, the Coin Task Force is urging consumers to do their part to “get coin moving.” That means:

  • Using exact change when making a purchase
  • Exchanging change at banks or kiosks

If you’re stuck with coin-operated laundry, you could ask your landlord or local laundromat to consider switching to a digital system.

Matt Miller, president of Coin-O-Matic, a company that equips laundry machines with payment systems, told The Wall Street Journal that demand for digital payment options has about doubled since the pandemic.

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SNIPPETS

Resignation: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned from his post amid scandals within his party. Over 36 hours, 50+ government officials resigned, leaving the British government in disarray.

Rate reversal: US mortgage rates had the largest one-week drop since 2008. The average rate for a 30-year loan fell from 5.7% last week to 5.3%, the lowest point in a month.

Meta open-sourced its AI translation tool to build a universal translator. The tool can already translate 200 different languages.

White knight: Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of crypto exchange FTX, says the company has a “few billion” on hand to bail out struggling crypto firms. FTX agreed to acquire crypto lender BlockFi earlier this week.

Epic fail: A software founder made some wrong turns when building his startup before ultimately closing shop, but the experience wasn’t in vain. He shared his lessons learned with The Hustle to help you avoid the same mistakes.

Pass the popcorn: Food Dive talks to the founders of Opopop about their quest to “make popcorn cool again” with pre-flavored kernels and fun branding. #ecommerce-retail

Shell announced that Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant, the Holland Hydrogen I, will begin operations in 2025. The plant is part of Shell’s goal to be a net-zero energy company by 2050. #clean-energy

Meta’s forthcoming AR/VR headset has a name: the Meta Quest Pro. It’ll likely cost $1k+ and come with better graphics and more power and features than the current Quest headsets. #emerging-tech

Yikes: HIPAA — the law that protects your medical records — doesn’t apply to many health care apps or at-home test kits, including period trackers. #privacy

Winter in Miami: MiamiCoin has lost ~90% of its value since launching in August. Slate examines how embracing crypto has panned out for the cities that were all in. #fintech-crypto

Netflix stood out for the way it valued blunt employee feedback. But workers say the culture seems to have changed with a controversial comedy special serving as a bellwether. #big-tech

MFM: The car startup Sam Parr predicts will be worth $500m. #mfm

Chart
South Korea's robot workers chart

Selina Lee

The robot workforce is coming

Dystopian movies have been fantasizing about robot uprisings for years.

While the global labor force is still dominated by humans, the robot workforce is rising quickly, per Rest of World.

In South Korea…

… the trend is driven by:

  • Minimum wage, which is up 5% in the last year and has been rising steadily since 2016
  • The Serious Disasters Punishment Act, which makes companies liable when a worker dies or is seriously injured on the job

While the law was meant to improve industrial safety standards, it’s unintentionally pushed companies to accelerate their shift toward automation.

Elsewhere…

… the biggest reason for the robot revolution is to fill gaps in the workplace. In the US, Singapore, and Japan, robots are on the rise in response to labor shortages.

While most robot jobs are behind the scenes, some Singaporean companies are using them for customer-facing jobs, including baristas.

The good news? Even South Korea has less than one robot for every 10 human workers — so it’ll be a while before we reach a truly dystopian scenario.

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Recs
Weekend Reads

Welcome to Weekend Reads. Here are some recs to pair with your weekend coffee.

ICYMI

  • Suyash Mehta was on the fast track to a successful career as a doctor. Then, he took an extreme pivot to become an NBA referee.
  • Our chat with Ray Dalio — one of the world’s most successful investors — about inflation, the debt crisis, and the decline of the American empire.
  • Securing funding is one of the first steps toward making your business vision a reality. Get your startup a head start in the funding race and check out the Hustle blog’s guide to finding investors for your venture.

Spot the fake

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AROUND THE WEB

🏗️ On this day: In 1913, Alfred C. Gilbert received a patent for what would become a wildly popular toy: the Erector Set. Before his turn to toymaker, Gilbert won a gold medal in pole vaulting at the 1908 Olympics.

🎸 That’s interesting: Writer Lisa Whittington-Hill reexamines the women of ‘90s grunge, many of whom were left out of the media spotlight.

Ⓜ️ Chill out: Enjoy this relaxing, musical simulation of New York City’s subway system.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Useful: Humaaans is a design library of illustrated people for use in your projects. Customize clothes and hairstyles, and create fun scenes.

🐴 Aww: And now, meet Basil, a Przewalski’s foal born at the UK’s Marwell Zoo.

Shower Thoughts
  1. “It’s impossible to look tough while yawning.”  SOURCE

  2. “Anything you may do as a hobby, someone does professionally and earns their living that way.”  SOURCE

  3. “Jar Jar Binks was an idiot who somehow kept getting promotions until he eventually helped destroy the Galactic Republic.”  SOURCE

  4. “Science is the universe trying to reverse engineer itself.”  SOURCE

  5. “Dolphins occasionally take a quick dip in the sky.”  SOURCE

 
via Reddit
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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “Can I get a Nickelback?” Dent.

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