Tech Kills Cash
Employers have found new ways to save money by deploying technology to keep their workforce connected for much less than the price of office space. Many folks who have been working from home are likely to stay there…
People who have used telehealth for the first time are more likely to keep doing so in the future. Why go wait in the doc’s waiting room when you can see a doctor from the comfort of your own home?
Students who have learned from home are finding that a virtual classroom is often as good as, if not better than, a physical one…
COVID-19 is changing how we live right now AND it’s also changing how we will live forever after.
Objects that people touch frequently are now regularly sanitized. People avoid touching surfaces that might harbor hidden traces of the coronavirus as best they can.
They always wipe down the shopping cart handles when I stop at the local Costco — and no mask, no service!
It’s changing how we engage in commerce in other ways, too.
Curbside pickup became common this year as a way to reduce crowds, avoid interaction and slow the coronavirus spread. People are doing a lot more delivery and takeout instead of dining in. And if restaurants are open, it’s often while enforcing reduced seating capacity to maintain spacing among guests.
One of the biggest problems: dirty money.
Dollar bills and coins are teeming with bacteria and viruses. One-dollar bills are used on average for almost six years, and $100 bills can be around for 15. Coins have the benefit of at least being nonporous compared with paper money, but due to their more durable nature they can circulate far longer, picking up bugs all along the way.
According to one study, during circulation, paper currency can accumulate hundreds of types of bacteria, viruses and even fungi — with many species not particularly friendly to human life. In some countries, sterilizing cash has become the new normal under COVID-19.
COVID-19 is only accelerating the trend to move away from cash. According to a study by the Federal Reserve, cash was used in 26% of transactions in 2018, a drop from 30% in 2017.
But cash itself isn’t the only potential source of contact risk when we engage in transactions…
How to Play the Cashless Trend
Getting cash has risk. Keypads on machines we use to get cash or keypads that we use if we pay with credit cards, can be bad too, with surfaces teeming with microbes. And the coronavirus that has had us so concerned can live on plastic or stainless steel for up to 72 hours, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.
So dirty money is out… but technology has helped us to adapt. Relatively less risky contactless payment methods are in.
I’ve been following the contactless payment trend in the U.S. for over a decade now, and it’s seen slower adoption in the U.S. than elsewhere.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) developed their own contactless payment technologies over a decade ago, for instance.
But it wasn’t until recently that people actually used the services.
A survey of Mastercard users showed that between February and March, contactless transactions grew twice as fast as noncontactless transactions in the grocery and drug store categories.
And overall 51% of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment.
And furthermore, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) with Apple Pay and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) with Google Pay both offer alternatives if one’s card doesn’t have contactless capabilities.
Finally, transactions between individuals have increased, and apps like Venmo offer transfer capabilities without ever needing to send cash or a check to the other person.
COVID-19 changed the way people think about the world.
And while many things will return to “normal”…
There’s a lot out there that is here to stay. Cashless payments are likely one of those things. Tech companies developing and refining that technology are going to pave the way…
To a bright future,