Can this guy survive a month using only R1 coins?

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One Rand Man

Cast your mind back to the late 1990s and mid 2000s and you might recall a series of experiments involving people trying to survive for a period of time by only buying stuff online. Back then, the question we were trying to figure out how much of a role this ecommerce thing would play in our futures. Now, it seems, we’re trying to figure out if ecommerce, combined with the increasing ubiquity of card payments, means that we’ve lost touch with money.

At least that’s what a new social experiment by a guy calling himself “The One Rand Man” seems determined to find out. The experiment, conducted in collaboration with Sanlam, will see The One Rand Man taking his entire salary in, well, one rand coins.

According to Sanlam, his bank accounts, bank cards and debit orders will all be frozen for the month, leaving him to survive exclusively using the — presumably large — bag of one rand coins. Aside from the trying to figure out how to pay for stuff that usually comes off his account electronically, it’s also worth bearing in mind that he’ll have to deal with the physical challenge of figuring out how many coins to take with him to any one place and how to transport all those coins safely.

The One Rand Man’s experiences will apparently be recorded using hidden cameras “to capture his interactions with people in an authentic way”. This footage will then be edited into five documentary episodes which will be hosted online.

Episodes will variously track The One Rand Mans’ initial struggles with this vastly changed financial system, his experience making large payments in coins, how his usual lifestyle choices are affected and finally how he deals with the end of the month when he potentially only has a few coins left.


Yegs Ramiah, chief executive officer of Sanlam Brand says that The One Rand Man signifies a young man with a typical relationship with money, and it is for this reason that Sanlam is delighted to be giving him a platform to share his story. “The reality is that we generally spend more when we spend on a card. With people so disconnected from money these days, the implications of our spending simply aren’t felt. And because it is so easy to spend – and to spend money we don’t actually have – many South Africans find themselves spiraling rapidly into debt.”

“Since our national savings rate is extremely low, we believe that any insights into our money habits which may lead to increased savings, is well worth promoting,” Yegs explains.

The One Rand Man will also be documenting his experiences on Twitter and Instagram.

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  • Kejoy

    He will have to remember that the Rand coin is legal tender up to R50 only, although few people are aware that there are limitations on the amount you can tender in different coins. But he’ll need a wheelbarrow to do his monthly shopping, and a thick skin if the supermarket is busy when he tries to pay in coins.

  • Neldo

    I think this could be a way to solve corruption in South Africa. No-one’s going to accept a bribe if it means carrying a sack of R1 coins around with them. Try doing that and not looking suspicious.

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