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Coronavirus and Currency – Will Covid-19 Accelerate Digital Payment Technology?

With all the scary stuff in the media at the moment regarding Coronavirus Covid-19, we had to have a little chuckle at an attempt for some light-hearted fun at the virus’ expense. A viral (no pun intended) post being shared on Facebook, is warning people about the potential to spread the virus through money, particularly notes, and to place all cash in a plastic bag and leave it outside front doors for collection to prevent further spread of infection.

Of course, this is a joke (please don’t be scammed by this!) but it did get us to thinking about how the Coronovirus could impact digital and electronic methods of payment and whether we would see an increase in use over the coming months.

Last month The Express reported on the risk of the virus spreading through coins and banknotes in an article warning readers that the virus could survive on various surfaces including currency, and that people should use hand sanitiser after handling money.

Dr Wiselka, consultant on infectious diseases at University of Leciester NHS Trust, was reported as advising the importance of hygienic practises like hand washing and using sanitiser when washing hands wasn’t an option. Interestingly, he was also quoted as saying ‘Perhaps we should use cards instead’ as money changes hands so quickly from person to person.

It will be interesting to see if there is a spike in people opting to use their card, particularly contactless, as well as ApplePay and GooglePay options when paying for things.

The Chinese government have quarantined some old paper notes and distributed new money in Huobei where the outbreak originated. The former Central Bank President for China has said that the Coronovirus may have accelerated China’s digital currency issuance in the hopes of preventing further spread. Digital currency would be particularly desirable during an epidemic where money is suspected of aiding the spread of a virus. Not only that, it’s argued that the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and convenience of digital currency is becoming more preferable anyway.

China has a mature modern and emerging electronic payment platform, but will still rely on the retail market demand.

Will we heading this way in the UK?

You might have seen an article from The Times that we shared on our Instagram Stories recently. Last week we shared details of the first mainstream Tesco store to use only electronic / digital methods of payment – There was no option to use cash at all. The completely cashless store in London is the biggest step yet by British retailers towards electronic payments, yet caused alarm and concern in some shoppers. But is this what retailers are moving towards – More electronic payments and less cash?

We’ve written plenty of blogs on the importance of charities and not-for-profit organisations to also start making the transition from solely cash fundraising strategies, to utilising digital donations in their campaigns.

With steps like this from Tesco, plus other things going on in the world around us, we can see the ever-growing importance of making sure potential donors at least have the option of cashless donations.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this – Does the current threat of Coronovirus make you think twice about using cash? Do you tend to use card anyway, or will you be choosing to do so moving forward? Were we heading towards more electronic payment technology anyway? We’re intrigued on this one – Let us know what you think via our social channels!

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