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ICA References on Cash & Pandemic

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Company: International Currency Association

The ICA is concerned by the rise of misinformation regarding the use of banknotes and coins
as the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ICA would therefore like to refer
to the following statements and references from medical and cash experts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is neither advising nor discouraging the
public to avoid cash payments, but encourages frequent hand washing and
adhering to basic hygiene.

° “We did NOT say that cash was transmitting coronavirus. […] We were
misrepresented. […] 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,” Fadela Chaib, spokesperson, WHO (as quoted by MarketWatch) 

° "The virus will not survive for very long on surfaces, particularly on a dry surface
like a banknote," Stephanie Brickman, senior communications consultant, WHO
(as quoted by euronews)

Coronavirus is to the largest extent transmitted through person-to-person contact and
not from touching objects. There is no evidence that banknotes transmit coronavirus or
are more strongly contaminated than any other surfaces, objects and other payment
methods, as stressed by several central banks and medical experts. To single out
banknotes is random.

° “Scientists note that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when
compared with other frequently-touched objects. To date, there are no known
cases of Covid-19 transmission via banknotes or coins. Moreover, it is unclear if
such transmission is material compared with person-to- person transmission or
transmission through other objects or physical proximity. The fact that the virus
survives best on non-porous materials, such as plastic or stainless steel, means
that debit or credit card terminals or PIN pads could transmit the virus too.”, Bank
for International Settlements

"Virus transmission through banknotes has no particular significance", Robert Koch
Institute, Germany

° “Infectiology scientists point out that both the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and
influenza viruses are droplet infections and therefore objects, such as banknotes
and coins, do not pose an increased risk of infection. There is no evidence that
corona or influenza viruses can be transmitted via banknotes. The likelihood of
being infected with cash is furthermore far less than with other objects that already
pose a low risk of transmission,” National Bank of Austria (OeNB)

° “Everyone needs to remember that all shopping and payment methods involve surface
contacts and good hand hygiene remains essential.”6 “Cash is just one of a number
of frequently touched surfaces we encounter. The same is true for any other
payment device whether it’s a card, phone or watch,” said Christian Hawkesby,
Assistant Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand

° “The risks posed from handling Canadian bank notes are no greater than those
posed by touching other common surfaces such as doorknobs, kitchen counters
and handrails. Canadians handling cash should follow the public health guidelines
on COVID-19 and wash their hands as they would do for other activities,” Bank of
Canada

° “The probability of becoming ill from handling cash is smaller than from many other
objects used in everyday life. […] “Banknotes and coins do not pose a particular
risk of infection for the public,” Johannes Beermann, Executive Board Member,
Bundesbank

° “There is nothing to indicate that there is a risk of being infected by the coronavirus
via banknotes and coins. The corona virus that causes covid-19 is primarily spread
from coughing and sneezing or via close contact with someone already infected,”
Sveriges Riksbank

° “As with normal seasonal influenza respiratory droplets of a person infected with a
virus could survive for a limited period on a banknote, like on any other object. The
probability of contagion with a virus via a banknote is, however, very low in
comparison with other surfaces (e.g. door handles, hand rails, light switches,
shopping baskets, payment terminals). The basic protective measures against the
new coronavirus should be applied as recommended by the World Health
Organisation including washing your hands frequently,” Central Bank of
Luxembourg

• The rise of misinformation regarding the use of banknotes and coins risks
undermining financial inclusion and access to goods, as well as potentially
exposing the public to increase in fraud risk.

° “During this time of heightened public health measures intended to limit the
transmission of COVID-19, some consumers and businesses are choosing not to
use cash to limit potential exposure. Refusing cash could put an undue burden on
people who depend on cash as a means of payment. The Bank strongly advocates
that retailers continue to accept cash to ensure Canadians can have access to the
goods and services they need,” Bank of Canada

° “Cash is the preferred form of payment for about 10% of Finns. For these people,
cash may be the only possible payment method and it is important that they get
their purchase done. Cash can be used as usual during a coronary pandemic.
However, the most important thing is careful hand hygiene, regardless of the
payment method,” Päivi Heikkinen, Head of the Payment Systems Department,
Bank of Finland

° “Retailers offering essential services should be making provision for shoppers who
can only pay with cash. Shoppers who need to pay with cash are more likely to beyoung, elderly, poor, disabled, seasonal workers, or vulnerable,” said Christian
Hawkesby, Assistant Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand

° “The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has been made aware of fake news that
involve a scam claiming that it is “recalling” money from the public. It is believed
that criminal elements are visiting the homes of members of the public telling them
to hand over banknotes in their possession because the banknotes have been
contaminated with the Corona virus. […] The SARB has neither withdrawn any
banknotes or coins nor issued any instruction to hand in banknotes or coins that
may be contaminated with the COVID-19 virus,” South African Reserve Bank


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