Monday, 6 april 2020 | Redacción CEU
Just a few weeks ago, everything was very different. Many of the things that seemed ordinary then are no longer so today. Due to the spreading of COVID-19, we have been forced to stay confined at home, without being able to go for a walk, hug friends or visit our relatives. This is an extraordinary and provisional situation. However, regardless of how long it lasts, we may wonder whether everything will go back to normal after this tough period. Unfortunately, our reality does not work as a video game: pressing the pause button does affect the game. In fact, the first changes are already starting to be observed. For example, companies are beginning to embrace teleworking, teachers are forced to design new ways to reach their students and citizens are learning other means to communicate with their loved ones. Today, on "The CEU IAM Blog", we want to focus our attention on another of those specific aspects that can be altered after the period of confinement: the use of cash.
In January, in this blog, we echoed the study carried out by the European Central Bank (ECB) into the use of cash in the European Union. Its analysis concluded that, along with countries such as Greece, Malta and Cyprus, Spain was one of the European nations that most opt for payments in cash. Will it continue to be so once the quarantine period is over? The use of cash is deeply rooted in Spain. Despite the downward trend in other countries, Spanish indicators have always remained considerably high in this respect. Nevertheless, the new context of confinement provides new figures that lead us to reflecting on whether this situation may change or not: Could it lead to the emergence of a new scenario where there will be a lower use of cash?
Is this a farewell to bills and coins?
At the beginning of March, several publications released WHO members’ declarations that claimed that exchanging money by hand could contribute to the spread of bacteria and viruses. Consequently, the recommendation was to avoid touching our faces after handling cash and prioritize contactless payments with cards. Everything indicated that the WHO pointed to the use of cash as a means of spreading COVID-19. However, in the middle of the same month, in an interview made via email by Market Watch, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said that this statements had been misrepresented. <<WHO did hot say banknotes would transmit COVID-19, nor have we issued any warnings or statements about this>>, Chaib clarified. <<We were asked if we thought banknotes could transmit COVID-19 and we said you should wash your hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food>>, since doing so is <<good hygiene practice>>, she added.