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Filthy Lucre?

13 March 2020

I remember my parents telling me that money was dirty.

No, they weren't socialists, they were simply pointing out that banknotes and coins pass through a lot of hands before they get into your pocket and in doing so, they have the potential to be the carrier of disease and infection.

I guess, given the current COVID-19 situation, this is a warning worthy of repeating.

The latest reports I've read indicate that the virus is able to remain viable on some surfaces for as long as several days so cash obviously represents one vector through which the pandemic could easily spread.

All the more reason to use your plastic?

Well if you do, try to use PayWave or other contactless methods and keep the transaction amounts low because if you do find yourself needing to key in a PIN then you're just as exposed to infection. Remember, countless other people before you have also been stabbing at those buttons!

This current pandemic may be a huge boost to alternative payment methods that do not require physical contact of any form.

Larger transactions should obviously be performed by use of online payments using a credit card or internet bank transfer whenever possible.

The real problem is those in-store purchases which exceed the PayWave no-PIN limit which is somewhere less than $100. How do you cope with those?

I guess you could whip out a pair of latex or nitrile gloves before you mash the keypad with your digits. Actually, I was surprised to learn that latex gloves seem to provide a virus-proof barrier (cite) because I would have thought they were too porus at such a microscopic level.

Another option would be to simply carry a few squares of cling-film and lay that over the EFTPOS terminal before entering your PIN -- then discard the film in the nearest rubbish bin.

Of course all of this assumes that you're just plain paranoid about catching the infection and if that's the case then it's rather unlikely you'd even be out and about, shopping in close proximity to other people, any of, unbeknownst to you, may be a carrier. It is far more likely that you'd be shopping online isn't it?

Interestingly enough, the Bank of England is now considering the introduction of digital banknotes to supplement and perhaps ultimately replace the printed versions. The current pandemic will likely add more incentive to this initiative.

Of course electronic payment methods are not without their own problems, as this report clearly shows.

And on the subject of digital currency, it seems that even good old Bitcoin and associated crypto currencies have also taken a hammering of late.

So what do you do?

Spend up as if there's no tomorrow in the absolute certainty that you can't take your money with you?

Invest in hand-santizer futures?

Recline in the comfort of the 200 rolls of toilet paper you bought before the big run on such things began?

Or just get on with getting on and recognise that whether you get sick or stay well, whether you live or die... it's all just a roll of the dice and worrying about it won't change the odds or the outcome.

As news of more deaths and continued spread rolls in, are you getting worried about the coronavirus pandemic? Have you made plans for your funeral yet or are you considering taking advantage of the very low airfares that are starting to appear -- so as to enjoy the holiday of a lifetime for a pittance?

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