Why Coronavirus Isn’t The End For Cash

In the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a lot of speculation and misinformation about a virus that we currently know very little about. One area of confusion lies in the use of cash and whether it is safe to do so during the Coronavirus pandemic. So, what are the facts about the safe use of cash during the COVID-19 outbreak? Furthermore, will this virus spell the end of the use of cash for good?

Can Cash Carry The Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus is transmitted by droplets. These droplets must then get into a person’s respiratory system for them to become infected. Just like many other surfaces, cash can carry the virus. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted through objects and surfaces, such as food, packaging, and cash, is extremely low.

However, due to some miscommunication and messaging taken out of context, many people now believe that cash is high risk and should be avoided. Some businesses are now stating that card or contactless payments are their preferred method of payment. However, pin pads, card machines, cards and phones are surfaces too. Consequently, they can also be carrying the virus, just as much as cash could be.

What Does The Science Say?

The WHO states that cash has a low risk of transmitting the virus. They confirm that cash is still safe to use. The WHO has also said that no dry surface has a high risk of carrying the virus – this covers a range of objects, including cash. What they do stress is frequent hand washing after coming into contact with surfaces that may be potentially infected. This includes washing or sanitising your hands after any payment activity.

It is important to remember that simply touching an infected surface does not mean you will have the Coronavirus. COVID-19 still has to pass through your nose, mouth or eyes to infect you. With this in mind, adopting good handwashing practices is the critical aspect, not reducing your contact with surfaces.

Is Cash More Dangerous Than Cards?

An analysis on paper (cotton) notes found that the level of virus present on notes is less than 1%. However, paper notes can absorb more moisture than polymer notes, which means viruses can typically survive longer in these conditions.

Studies have also found that polymer notes have a lower risk of viruses. This is because bacteria and viruses from human hands are less capable of sticking to the polymer note. As the majority of notes in the UK are now polymer, this can bring a level of peace of mind to regular cash users. It is also worth noting that coins have also been shown to be a poor environment for viruses to survive.

Further research into the Coronavirus does show that the virus is more stable on plastic and metal surfaces. This means the virus is just as likely to live longer on other payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, and mobile phones.

In summary, the chances of Coronavirus infection through cash is minimal. However, it is essential to follow proper hand hygiene practices, whichever method of payment you choose to use.

Should You Eliminate Cash From Your Business?

Regardless of whether you have requested customers to use contactless payments, you may have noticed that cash use has declined since the outbreak. In the UK, ATM withdrawals have fallen by 60% since lockdown. Furthermore, card usage has increased. However, this indicates a rise in online shopping more so than card payments increasing in-store.

Either way, many businesses are now wondering whether they should begin preparing to go cashless. However, cash is still a vital form of payment and eliminating it from your organisation could significantly impact your bottom line.

Even in difficult times such as this, there is still £1 billion being taken out of ATMs each week. This accounts for over 11 million cash withdrawals. Furthermore, the average ATM withdrawal is increasing too. With an average withdrawal amounting to £82, compared to £65 last year.

With this in mind, many of your customers are actively using cash and with higher amounts to spend too – eliminating cash from your business could see you losing sales.

Furthermore, around 20% of the UK population rely on cash. Unlike other forms of payments, cash doesn’t have a barrier to entry. Technology, literacy and financial circumstances can all limit a person’s ability to access other forms of payment. Cash, on the other hand, is the only form of payment that is available to everyone. With 1.6 billion people without a bank account, it is important not to leave these customers behind.

How To Make Cash Safer In Your Business

  1. Hand Hygiene

Remind customers and employees of the best hand hygiene practices and encourage everyone to wash or sanitise their hands after a transaction, regardless of the payment option.

It can be helpful to have hand sanitiser available for customer and employee use near the till points as a useful reminder. Display hand hygiene posters can also help to remind people that maintaining hand cleaning processes is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of infection.

  1. Limit Contact With Cash

Cash handling technology can be a great way to authenticate, count and process cash with only one-touch of the note. By reducing contact with any surface can reduce the risk of infection. With staff under pressure and risking their lives to serve customers, businesses need to make their job safer, easier and as hassle-free as possible. By digitising POS processes with cash technology, you can save time, improve customer service, protect cash and reduce the risk from contaminated surfaces.


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