Now, this is going to sound biased (only if you know I work for a cash in transit company!) but I think cash is safe. So many of our client base stopped taking cash, removing the need for collections from us, during the COVID-19 pandemic. As this spread throughout the country, we heard of entire security companies closing down until further notice.
We wanted to ensure cash was still being circulated ourselves, knowing how safe it is. So everyone in our offices had to find other stores and service stations to visit so we could continue to personally use cash during this time. We may have stayed with them, post-COVID-19 restrictions, but we had to research and find options.
When handling cash during pandemics and periods of uncertainty, there are plenty of simple adjustments you can make to ensure your safety. A lot of our clients have concerned customers of their own, and staff that might be worried about contracting Novel Coronavirus through sharing surfaces. There was a push to go cashless and have contactless payments worldwide. This was despite many authorities and experts commenting on the likelihood of transferring via cash being minimal to non-existent.
Australian cash itself seems like it was designed for this purpose – polymers in the blend mean it cannot retain the virus as long as other surfaces. The Royal Australian Mint not only explained their safety measures at the beginning of COVID-19, but also pointed out that using a cashless machine, and having to press a PIN on the pad, was far more dangerous for contracting the virus than handing over the polymer notes.
We have had months to research the behaviour of the COVID-19, and many studies have updated assumptions about the transfer of the virus. Initially there were fears surrounding any surface, and after testing, the lifespan of the droplets on different surfaces was able to be assessed.
Even internationally, scientists doubted the ability of the virus to remain on cash. There have been large studies conducted in European countries, from cashless societies not being sustainable, to excluding certain populations from accessing items due to removing cash options. Worldwide, people have studied how much payments and charges are costing users and supermarkets as well.
Not all people have access to bank accounts and credit cards. This number is exacerbated in Europe with some countries having a divide between those within and without financial institutions at all.
But most Commonwealth countries using cashless transactions will be excluding those on pensions and people without regular housing and income who may not qualify for a bank account, let alone a credit card. A lot of banks now incorporate VISA or Mastercard in a regular savings account. However, if you are couch surfing during university, homeless due to Covid job cuts, or trying to recover from bankruptcy, you may not be entitled to many banking benefits, and thus end up unable to purchase anything electronically.
Cash will never leave us. Even in these times of uncertainty and many claims of cash being unsafe, people are withdrawing and hoarding cash. If the population relaxes and begins to shop and spend again, they will have ample funds on hand to pass over to you.
If you follow the guidelines below, you will be caring for your own wellbeing when handling cash, and also that of your customers and clients.
The Coronavirus specifically is transmitted via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. If you touch these droplets and then your face, you can be at risk for carrying the virus yourself. Always wash your hands or use a sanitiser before touching your face.
Customers, students or clients might be apprehensive about using cash. But you can assure them, it is no different than pulling open the handle on the front door just now, pressing the button in a lift, opening the menu in your restaurant, or pressing the buttons to put your PIN into an EFT machine.
Stores and offices now should clean EFT or ATM surfaces often. As people must input PINs or details into machines, they should be cleaned regularly to stop the spread of the virus through the plastic surfaces. A lot of banks and stores increased their cashless usage limits earlier during the pandemic. This led to contactless shopping for most people. This also only lasted a few weeks and after reverting back to lower limits, everyone had to input a PIN again to use cards for payments.
One article I read while researching this claimed money was so safe the only way you could get sick from handling cash was if someone sneezed into the note before handing it to you. I’m not going to go that far. But I have always believed cash was just as safe, if not slightly safer, than putting petrol in my car after someone else has just used the pump. There are so many times during our days when we automatically reach for something with our hands. Taking cash from someone should be treated exactly the same way: use caution if concerned. Wash your hands often, and pop a hand sanitiser pump pack near the register. Just use it when receiving cash if you feel safer.
Word of vaccine testing is becoming everyday news and it will only be a matter of time until we can try to eradicate Covid-19 fully. Until then, to stop transmissions, and help your staff and customers feel safer, remember to clean everything regularly if it has a stable surface, wash hands and sanitise often, and stay 1.5m apart.