Financial Hygiene During Covid-19 Outbreak

Olga Shirimova
March 20, 2020

One of the measures China took to protect citizens from catching the coronavirus was the massive cleaning of cash. Banks used UV-radiation and high temperatures to disinfect paper money.
On a private level, there are several rules of financial hygiene you should follow to reduce the risk of getting infected. 

In China, the banks were massively cleaning the cash from the infected regions, or even destroyed it. Image source: FOX 2 Detroit

How To Make Money Less Dirty

From an early age, we know that money is one of the dirtiest things. That’s why your Mom insisted you wash your hands after touching it. 

Now many of us use credit cards and banking apps to pay for goods and services. But when an epidemic strikes, all forms of money may become somewhat dirty and — which is worse — dangerous. Even if they don’t change hands.

We have developed a few ‘financial hygiene rules’. No matter what type of payments you prefer, they may save you and your family from catching Covid-19. 

Rule #1: Avoid Using Cash

Many of us still keep some cash in your wallets — just in case. But what was the last time you needed paper money? We suggest you ban cash from your life — banknotes and coins change many hands and so they may carry a virus. Unless you have a note cleaning machine at home, the danger is too big.

Experts warn that the virus can stay on paper money for 10 days. If an infected person has used a note, it becomes a weapon.
Unfortunately, panic makes people crazy: many banks reported their clients making big cash withdrawals. Hopefully, the survivalists will keep all this paper under their mattress instead of putting it into circulation.

ATM buttons are frequently touched, so you should protect yourself.
Image source: Bitcoin.com

Rule #2: Wash Your Hands After Dealing With Cash Machines

Well, if you follow Rule #1, you can skip this one. If you still need cash from time to time, take a note.

First, it’s better not to touch ATM buttons with bare hands. Use disposable gloves or a plastic bag. Remember that people who use paper money touch these buttons with their fingers many times a day. The laws of probability tell us there may be something bad on them.

The World Health Organization recommended disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and we all hope banks follow this advice. But — better too safe than sick. If you touched cash machine buttons, wash your hands or use an antiseptic wipe.

In times of crisis, many people want cash, so visit ATM at irregular hours to avoid unnecessary contact. Image source: HindustanTimes

Rule #3: Opt For Irregular Hours To Avoid Waiting In Line

Again, if you don’t deal with cash and cash machines, skip this rule.
If you do, it would be a good idea to avoid making withdrawals when many people do it. Banks are public places where all kinds of people expose themselves to the danger of getting infected. And the ATM zone is the public place where people who use cash are closely packed.

So, it’s wise to plan your visit to an ATM for a late or early hour, when the bank is closed.

Rule #4: Don’t Touch PoS Terminals

Ok, you decided to give up cash. It means using a credit card on a daily basis and — if you make big purchases — entering your PIN-code from time to time. Imagine you are in a supermarket, paying for your cart. How many shoppers have already touched these PoS buttons? What is the probability that one of them was a Covid-19 carrier?

Instead of testing your luck, just make sure there is something between your finger and the terminal. For instance, a plastic bag or a wipe you will dispose of later.

Using a PayPass card or another contactless payment option is preferable when you seek to protect yourself from Covid-19. Image source: TheChronicle

Rule #4: Opt For Contactless Payments

The Covid-19 pandemic is a good reason to get a paypass card that does not require any PIN-code verification of swiping, Thus, you greatly reduce physical contact with a PoS terminal.

Also, you can use a mobile payment app for this purpose. And don’t forget to clean your phone every day.

Rule #5: Shop online 

Surprise! — you don’t have to go out of the house to buy something if you are connected to the Internet. It may be risky to visit offline stores, but their online versions are still ok.

Check if your retailer offers a delivery service. Today, some local businesses offer the so-called ‘contactless’ delivery — a courier leaves your pre-paid order by the door instead of handing it to you.

Shipping online is also convenient if you have some seniors to take care of. As human contact can be dangerous for your elderly relatives, shop online for them and order a ‘contactless delivery’ when available. 

Many businesses like KFC test contactless food delivery to help curb the disease.
Image source: MooseGazette

Rule #6: Wash your hands

This tip looks very generic, but it’s impossible to ignore it.
Note that payments, both physical and digital, are part of our daily routine. We repeat the same actions frequently and they have become automatic. Chances are, despite all our tips, you will touch/hold/swipe something you shouldn’t without even noticing it.

So, follow your Mom’s advice — and wash your hands regularly. 

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