Cash may be as safe or safer than EFTPOS payments and there is no evidence that handling cash spreads coronavirus, warns the Australian Mint. During the outbreak many businesses – such as grocer Harris Farm – have moved to exclusively accepting card payments in a bid to reduce cash handling by employees. But the Royal Australian Mint says there is little scientific evidence using cash makes anyone more susceptible to the virus, and excluding cash payments may alienate some members of the community.
“Medical experts have confirmed that cash, including coins is safe to use – there is no evidence that either coins or cash spread COVID-19,” The Royal Australian Mint said in a statement.
“The World Health Organization has rejected reports that it warned COVID-19 could be spread through handling cash.”
The Mint also recommended washing your hands after every payment – no matter whether it was with cards or banknotes.
“You can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within one metre of a person who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands,” the nation’s coinmaker warned.
“The best defence against these droplets is to avoid touching your face, sanitise the surfaces of any items that you touch, and regularly wash or sanitise your hands.
“This applies equally if you use cash or cash-free methods such as contactless payments. Be sure to also wash your hands after using phones, credit cards, keypads or touchscreens.”
A recent report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Switzerland found no scientific evidence banknotes could carry the virus more effectively than other objects.
On the contrary, frequent handling of a contactless card or an EFTPOS machine terminal may actually carry a greater risk.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has fanned public concerns that the coronavirus could be transmitted by cash,” BIS researchers wrote.
“Scientific evidence suggests that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when compared with other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads.”
Tim Wildash, chief executive of independent ATM supplier Next Payments, said the cash in his machines has been sterilised.
“ATM cash is sanitised with ultra-violet light, disinfectant sprays and stored for 24 – 48 hours to ensure it is free of contamination,” Mr Wildash said.
“By contrast, EFTPOS terminals can be used by hundreds of shoppers per day to make card transactions, to enter their PIN if required and select their account.
“I welcome the Mint’s report confirming cash is safe because our great cash economy is under threat.”
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