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Dirty money: dealing with cash during the coronavirus pandemic

In the need of substitutes, there are several options in Costa Rica such contactless payment options

(QCOSTARICA) Are you aware of how germy the surface of cash is? That’s why it can be a bacteria carrier and, therefore a risky material for the propagation of COVID-19. Oh, but it’s not something new, but something to take into account in any context. That’s why dirty money is dangerous.

Cash turns dirty because of the number of people touching it. There’s no way to have control of the hygiene of its users and that makes their surface unsafe.

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Epidemiologic and microbiologic studies have proven that several microorganisms can live in the coins and banknotes’ surfaces for large periods. At the same time, they could be keeping their potential risk of infecting. Cotton (the most important material in banknotes) allows microorganisms to adapt easily and find nutrients that let them live for large periods. The same goes for the metal in the coins.

A study conducted in the United States in 2017 used circulating banknotes from New York and analyzed them in a laboratory. The results revealed the presence of more than 3.000 kinds of bacteria, ranging from the mouth and vaginal bacteria to pets and flu-like viruses.

“There are special places, like hospitals or restaurants that cash should not be used at all”, says Juan Fernando Alzate, a Colombian bacteriologist.

Contactless paying solutions

The concerns over cash while the coronavirus outbreak forced important changes in the paying methods. In China, during the highest peak of contagion, the Government demanded to sterilize the money that came from the more risky locations.

Contactless payment debit | BAC Credomatic
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There, March 2020 marked the moment with the least cash transactions. China’s population turned to mobile payments to make purchases. As well, contactless options expanded significantly. These methods bring convenience, comfort, and safety.

In the need of substitutes, there are several options such as apps.

In Costa Rica, debit and credit cards – smartcards, also known as a chip card – using RFID technology or near-field communication (NFC) can be used at all retail stores.

To make a contactless payment, near your card near a point-of-sale terminal that is equipped with the contactless payment technology. Contactless payments do not require a signature or a personal identification number (PIN).

Some retailers may set a low limit for their contactless system in order to prevent fraud, while others still allow for large transactions. Depending on the retailer and type of transaction, larger amounts may require a signature.

The main advantage of contactless payment is that it speeds up transactions by eliminating the need for a customer to enter a PIN.

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In these times of coronavirus, it is also one less thing to worry about from being infected, avoiding unnecessary human contact and, therefore, contactless payments don’t carry the same risk as cash.

If you’re using your credit or debit cards, anyway, beware of washing your hands thoroughly and repeatedly.

Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) wrist band

Caution is a revolution!

And how about you? Do you feel dirty money is dangerous? Are you still using cash as your preferred payment method?

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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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