BALTIMORE - Allfirst Financial Inc. will launch a promotion Saturday aimed at attracting new checking accounts - and getting more golden dollar coins into circulation.

The $18 billion-asset banking company, a unit of Allied Irish Banks PLC, will give five coins to customers who open checking accounts through October. One account holder will be chosen to receive 10,000 coins.

Allfirst has ordered one million of the coins, which feature the likeness of Sacagawea, a young Shoshone woman who was a part of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

The dollar coins have been a victim of their own success, as many people are hoarding rather than spending them. One billion have been minted since its introduction in January, but the coin is not still not being used widely in day-to-day transactions.

Allfirst said it is making the coin widely available as a customer service because it is in such great demand.

The company expects that keeping the golden dollars stocked in each of its 261 branches in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia and dispensing them in routine transactions will bring in new customers and reduce the novelty of the coin.

A U.S. mint spokesperson said it may take a full year before people start spending the coins routinely, but he noted it is being used at several venues, including parking meters in Chicago, toll booths in Oklahoma, and nearly 20 transit systems around country.

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