Coinbase latest ad argues blockchain could make pennies ‘useful’ again


Moving the United States dollar to a “well-designed blockchain” could make billions of “clunky” pennies in the country useful again, according to a new ad campaign from crypto exchange Coinbase.

The campaign came as part of National Lost Penny Day on Feb. 12, an annual day celebrating the creation of the penny and encouraging Americans to find lost pennies around the home — the tradition beginning in 1995.

However, Coinbase has seemingly used the opportunity to argue that stablecoins can help “move money forward” and save people and small businesses from the cost of legacy fiat systems. 

In an X post on Feb. 12, Coinbase stated that $1.2 million worth of pennies are lost yearly and that it costs nearly three times as much to manufacture a penny’s value.

A follow-up X Spaces saw Zero Knowledge Consulting founder Austin Campbell arguing that merchants, in particular, could reap the benefits of “instant settlement, low-cost payments” from stablecoins should fiat make their way to the blockchain.

“Most merchants operate on very small margins, a lot of small consumer businesses have small margins and adding even one penny to that margin with improved cost structures is meaningful to them.”

The 1-minute spot shows a one-cent penny with an animated former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln pleading for pennies to be converted into digital form.

“Being on the penny used to mean something […] now it’s useless barter for petty wishes tossed out like common garbage 120 million times a year even though it’s still technically money,” the animated penny Lincoln said as it got sucked up by a vacuum machine.

“Imagine me actually paying for stuff. Among the people, instantly traveling the globe without fees or friction. Old Abe just wants to be good at being money again,” he added.

“Get me off this piece of scrap metal, make me digital.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Mint still continue to produce pennies in 2024 despite decade-long efforts made to cease those operations. Data from 2017 approximated there to be 150 billion pennies, worth $1.5 billion in circulation.

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That being said, Campbell, a self-proclaimed “stablecoin philosopher,” acknowledged that technical and logistical limitations still subsist in moving fi on-chain:

“The hard part is the interface between a system that is open in terms of calendar hours about 25% of the week and settles on a one-day or two-day forward basis, matched up with a 24/7 live blockchain that I need to get money in and out of,” he explained.

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