Could COVID-19 spell the end of cash?

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The spread of the novel coronavirus has forced many retailers to ask customers to look after staff health and forgo cash payments in favour of cards.

Tap and go is the way to go in these troubling times.

Does this mean we are seeing the start of a cashless society?

Some countries are already well on the way to becoming completely cashless.

Sweden is already on the verge of becoming the world’s first completely cashless society.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s New Payment Platform (NPP) makes electronic payments faster and easier and brings Australia into line with the rest of a world increasingly heading towards cashless systems.

Some money experts predicted that Australia could become a completely cashless society by the end of 2020.

Six months ago, that may have seemed a far-fetched idea. However, with the spread of COVID-19 and the many vendors now refusing cash payments, and the widespread and increasing use of tap-and-go payment channels and other digital transactions, we could see a cashless way of life a lot sooner.

According to a report in UK newspaper The Telegraph, the World Health Organization (WHO) was pushing people towards contactless payment options “because infectious COVID-19 may cling to the surface [of cash] for a number of days”.

However, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said the organisation was “misrepresented”, asserting it “did NOT say that cash was transmitting coronavirus”.

“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,” said the spokesperson.

Small Caps has already predicted that “governments would use the coronavirus pandemic to their advantage to start the transition to digital currencies among passing draconian laws on its citizens”.

Cash has been on the way out for some time.

Australia has already considered removing the $100 note from circulation and banning cash transactions over $10,000.

Welfare payments in some areas are only made available via cashless systems.

According to a 2016 Reserve Bank of Australia survey, 37 per cent of respondents made payments in cash, compared to 69 per cent a decade earlier. The RBA says that “the share of cash transactions is likely to have declined further since”.

The number of ATM withdrawals in Australia has fallen by an average of five per cent per year since 2013.

“The reduced use of cash for transactions over the past decade largely reflects consumers preferring to use debit and credit cards for their in-person payments, including for lower-value payments,” said the RBA.

China wants to introduce a full digital currency system that would see digital tokens swapped with the current Yuan currency.

The US last week offered a $US2.5 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that could lead to the implementation of a digital dollar.

Central banks in the European Union, South Korea, Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Switzerland have been exploring the introduction of digital currency.

While many may lament the loss of cash, some say a cashless society will be safer, simpler and more efficient.

Governments the world over claim that getting rid of cash would help with policing the black economy and recouping billions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

However, with a cashless society comes the potential loss of personal freedom and privacy.

Accounts can be hacked. Cash cannot. Authorities may also be able to cut you off from your own finances or take your financial assets for many reasons and access to your money would be dependent on technology.

Many people also find it easier to control their finances with cash.

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA) spokesperson Paul Versteege also believes that older Australians are anxious of such change. And, considering hacker activity and online fraud is on the rise, he may have a point.

How do you feel about a cashless society?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

120 Comments

Total Comments: 120
  1. 0
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    What happens if technology breaks down? Remember recently that the EFTPOS system in a supermarket shut down unexpectedly and no one use their card to pay for their purchases.

    There seem to be many instances where you have to pay in cash. Hopefully cash will not become redundant as there is a lot of older people, including me, who prefer to use it.

    It is a false assumption that everyone uses the internet/computer/Ipad/iPhone – mostly due being unable to afford it.

    • 0
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      There has always been fallback procedures in place when the network is down. They don’t use it as they are concerned about frauds but if we were cashless they would again use the fallback system.

      The fallback system allows the retailer to process the transaction up to a certain amount, was $100 years ago, and the transaction is sent through when the network is running again. Sometimes means overdrawn accounts but that’s the price to pay for efficiency.

    • 0
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      When the technology breaks down they just got your money.

      The following is one of the reasons for coronavirus and to shut down peoples protests ;
      Protests in Wuhan – https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-48904350

    • 0
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      Sort of efficiency privatisation didn’t achieve I expect.

      Control the money and you control the people. Who exactly owns the World Banking System? Is it still the Rothchilds?

    • 0
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      Greg it is a fallacy that when the network is down there is a fallback system in place. When the cashless society comes in ALL people receiving a ‘welfare’ payment [which includes Age Pensioners] will be forced onto the Indue Cashless Credit Card where you have LIMITED say on which shops you can use. Indue tells you where you can go and what you are allowed to buy. This does NOT include second hand stores, Gumtree, ebay etc. It also does not include 99% of small businesses in your community.

      90% of the people forced onto the Indue card are now in debt. Quite a few of them have lost their homes/cars/furniture etc due to Indue NOT paying the bills on time. Kids are unable to go on school trips as schools are not on the list of acceptable places to use the card. People have problems buying school uniforms [not on Indue list] or for that matter FOOD because the card crashes for NO REASON.

      it was a proven fact that robberies skyrocketed in areas that had the Indue cards during the bushfires. NONE on the cards were able to access money to buy anything because the system was down. It will be the same during this crisis as well.

      I don’t know about you but for 60+ years my finances have been managed perfectly well. No debts, DON’T do drugs, drink or gamble excessively – in fact a very boring life.
      I do NOT see why someone else should have access to my PRIVATE information and send me into debt because the government is in bed with private enterprise.

      it is frankly insulting!!!!

    • 0
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      What is an Indue card, and what state has that ?

  2. 0
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    What happens if technology breaks down? Remember recently that the EFTPOS system in a supermarket shut down unexpectedly and no one use their card to pay for their purchases.

    There seem to be many instances where you have to pay in cash. Hopefully cash will not become redundant as there is a lot of older people, including me, who prefer to use it.

    It is a false assumption that everyone uses the internet/computer/Ipad/iPhone – mostly due being unable to afford it.

  3. 0
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    In the current situation, the tap-and-go makes sense.I experimented with my current coins in a Dettol bath. The resulting soup was mind blowing. More to the point, how do you stay currently aware of EXACTLY how much money you have to spend? Are we going to go around notebook in hand Plusing and Minusing? With cash in hand you know how much you have to spend. Might I suggest this is where people who only use cards get into trouble with money. You must know your limits. Denny , you make a good point. My daughter has run into the same problem with her carer. Her bank does not want to know.

    • 0
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      I never use cash, only have $40 in case, use cards constantly without budgeting issues.

      It’s better than cash – cash you end up with coins here and there which can add up, with cards you have a record of every transaction, no lost coins, no coins forgotten about, just every transaction which you can look at every day if you want to see ho you are going with that budget.

    • 0
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      The problem is also that everyone else has the possibility of looking at where you spent your money not just yourself Greg. That worries me.

    • 0
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      be lots of worried people…cannot hide the money under the mattress

  4. 0
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    How about just reporting on the facts instead of trying to make something out of nothing.

  5. 0
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    Recently into Sweden for 6 weeks, not used cash once. Even at markets they use a simply easy system called Swish.Notice to customers at some fuel stations for cash you pay a surcharge. I believe banks charge business for cash management. You can always have a seperate card with limited cash on to give use to another, we did this for grandson.It was great way to operate. If suits all receipts are sent to your phone, no bits of paper.

  6. 0
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    I’ve been in isolation for the last six weeks and the lady who brought my shopping paid using her card and I gave her cash to cover the bill. Interestingly there was an extra amount added to the bill because a card was used, I wasn’t aware of the charges because I pay cash for my groceries when shopping.
    Going cashless sounds like another excuse for banks to charge us extra for using the cards. Most people I know put a certain amount away each fortnight in envelopes to pay for the phone, electricity, gas etc. when the bills come in.

    • 0
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      Extra charge? Was that Aldi? They charge on credit cards but not debit cards.

    • 0
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      Yes they do, unless you override the tap card, push savings and then you have to touch the buttons anyway for your PIN.

    • 0
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      Greg,
      Wrong comment, I only have a ‘Debit Card’ and Aldi charge me for using it tapping.
      If your prepared to use your pin drawing from savings there is no charge on cards.

    • 0
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      It will be a shame I can’t buy at Alfdi and many places after this but I simply refuse to pay extra tax to merchants for shopping. I use the word tax as it scares people more than the word fee for some odd reason. It’s the same thing though.

    • 0
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      Rae – just come back from Aldi shop and I had no problems with paying cash, was quicker than the people in front of me fiddling with their cards and PIN as they did not want to pay the Visa or Master fee.

    • 0
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      What annoys me is the number of people who get to the checkout, and then when the amount comes up, they get out their wallet/purse, and fiddle around trying to ge the card out, then realise they have the wrong one, then they put the card in and tap the number whicht they have to remember. Why not get your card out while the girl is scanning your items, also another reason for tap and go cards, unless you spend over a $100.

  7. 0
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    It’s going to happen – and a good thing too.
    The current situation may speed it along.

    • 0
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      ‘Speed it along’ – I hope not.
      Speed it along brings to mind the the time wasting process of standing in line while people fumble through their bag looking for their credit card – or cards as the case may be – looking for the one that works! You’d think they’d have the damn things ready to go, but no…… still inside the wallet or purse which is again, often down somewhere deep in the bowels of another carry bag.
      Then, once the thing is finally discovered, waiting agonizingly for the pin numbers to be entered and again waiting for the flammin’ machine to complete the transaction – that’s if its working.
      Grrrrrr – Please – I’m old – time is short – I have no time for this nonsense – can’t I simply hand over the cash so I can get out of here!
      And people need to be aware how governments will use the credit card only situation as another way to know their business and keep them in line – because like it or not – that’s what governments love to do.
      Tap and go – yes – really handy for the criminal element who find your card if you lose it! They’ll be ‘tapping and going’ every day – right up until the time you discover it missing.

      And as far as the Covid 19 debacle is concerned….I wonder how many people a day touch the numbers on the credit card terminal? A damn site more than would touch the fifty dollar note, I hand over for payment I bet!

    • 0
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      I don’t touch any credit card terminals, I just tap & go.

  8. 0
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    i dont trust computers

  9. 0
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    Cash and coins are the worst carrier of illness.

  10. 0
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    Control in a cashless society SMACKS of BIG BROTHER to me !aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh

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