Fri, Dec 07, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Central bank to mint more coins for claw cranes

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

A man maintains a claw machine at a shop in New Taipei City on Sep. 25.

Photo: CNA

The central bank plans to mint a large amount of NT$10 (US$0.32) coins next year to meet the popularity of claw machines, which are occupying ever ever more retail space across Taiwan.

The central bank aims to set aside NT$170 million from next year’s budget to mint NT$1, NT$5, NT$10 and NT$50 coins, with NT$10 coins alone to take up 60 percent of the sum, bucking declines in the circulation of other coins, its proposed budget showed.

“Claw machines, which accept NT$10 coins for each play, are gaining popularity and the central bank is to make more coins to meet the demand,” bank Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) told the Legislative Yuan’s Finance Committee.

There are more than 10,000 claw machine stores and 3,353 firms in the supply chain, the bank’s report said, adding that the industry provides 100,000 jobs for machine makers, owners and operators.

A simple business model and the low cost of entry have facilitated rapid expansion.

Local media in February quoted YouTuber and claw machine operator “Stanley” as saying that store owners can break even within a year and earn up to NT$150,000 a month.

Store owners are responsible for setting up the infrastructure — finding a space, buying 26 to 30 claw machines and installing security cameras — which usually costs less than NT$1 million, they quoted him as saying.

The owners then rent out each machine at about NT$5,000 a month to those interested in operating one as a source of extra income; with all 30 claw machines rented out, a store owner can make NT$150,000 a month, the reports said.

The prospect has drawn many into the business as store owners or operators.

The central bank plans to mint 2.2 billion NT$10 coins next year, a 10 percent increase from this year, Yang said.

“The smaller the coin’s value, the higher its minting costs,” Yang said, adding that people can help reduce minting expenditure by using EasyCard and other payment tools for daily transactions.

The central bank expects to book a NT$150.39 billion budget surplus next year and the figure could climb to NT$180 billion after adding surpluses from the previous fiscal year, it said.

Foreign-exchange reserves totaled US$461.34 billion at the end of last month, with unrealized gains standing at NT$150 billion, Yang said.

The bank saw NT$300 billion in foreign-exchange losses last year when the local currency gained more than 8 percent against the US dollar, but the situation has improved, helped by better management and the local currency’s depreciation this year, he said.

The central bank would make portfolio adjustments to cope with market volatility, Yang said.

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