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  • K. Scott

COVID-19 – Learn How Cash Handling Has Changed Since the Start of The Virus

It's a fact that ATMs have been a dependable part of our lives for decades, but the big question is how has that changed since the start of COVID-19?

In this article, we will examine how cash handling has changed since COVID-19 and what ATM business owners can expect in the months and years to come.


Cash Handling During COVID-19

Back in February, and early March 2020, there was rampant speculation about how the COVID-19 virus could be spread and cash was often in the discussion because unless paper currency is disinfected there’s always a concern that COVID-19, or another virus, can be spread by touching that cash.

The concern over cash led some media outlets to encourage consumers to avoid cash at all costs out of the fear of getting COVID-19 while the World Health Organization issued a statement on the matter encouraging people to follow basic hygiene and wash their hands after they’ve handled cash.

Following good hygiene right now is important because COVID-19 is transmitted on surfaces so if a person who had COVID-19 touches an ATM or the cash that’s in it, the next person who uses that ATM could catch the virus if they do not wash their hands immediately.

What’s Next for Cash?

The concern over cash led some countries to disinfect their currency, or in extreme cases, to even burn it, while other countries, like the United States, are taking a less extreme route by encouraging people to use digital banking to limit their contact with cash.

Since the start of COVID-19, the use of remote banking has risen dramatically worldwide as more consumers have moved to digital banking to avoid using cash.

With remote banking, a customer can access their bank account 24-7 via their bank’s website, or mobile banking app to pay bills, transfer funds, invest, or accomplish any banking goal that they desire.

Is Cash Coming to An End? 

Does this mean that the use of cash is quickly coming to an end in the United States? The answer to this question is no. There’s always going to be a demand for paper currency in the United States since many people still like to carry currency in their wallet, purse, or use paper currency to pay for transactions. Also, since the Federal Reserve is removing old paper currency from circulation each year, it’s likely that any currency we have in circulation that may be infected by COVID-19 will be removed from circulation this year.

What most people don’t know is that each denomination of cash has its lifecycle.

  • $1 bills – Removed from circulation every 6.6 years

  • $5 bills – Removed from circulation every 5.7 years

  • $10 bills – Removed from circulation every 5.3 years

  • $20 bills – Removed from circulation every 7.8 years

  • $50 bills – Removed from circulation every 12.2 years

  • $100 bills – Removed from circulation every 22.9 years

As the years go by, there’s going to naturally be a higher percentage of the population that supports using digital currency vs. paper currency but until that happens, we can expect cash and other forms of paper currency to continue to be in circulation for the future unless there is a global push to abolish paper currency. 

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