Will coronavirus bring fundamental changes to payment methods?

There are a lot of people scrutinizing this issue lately and I know I’m one of them. I’ve been heralding the message that the rule of paper money, otherwise known as cash, would be over.

I know that the power of paper money or minting money used to give the State a total “seigniorage” (right of the lord/seigneur to mint money). But the monetary seigniorage has disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, no state on the face of the earth is trying to make money off of the difference between the value of money and the cost to produce and distribute it. As a matter of fact, today, it is the banks that generate money, not the central banks.

Although people’s interest in paper money can rise above the normal level from time to time because of financial struggles the countries face, in reality, no one wants to have paper money in their pockets, except for the dominant currencies which are Euro and Dollar. I might say that the difference between the representative money and the printed money is not only the indicator of this trend, but it also triggers it.

I still remember like it was yesterday, my late mother used to say, “Wash your hands after handling money!” My late father too used to give me a similar advice, “Don’t touch your after handling money! Go wash your hands first!” Indeed, a lot of people have been telling me these things almost for 40 years about the fact that metal and paper money can harbour thousands of microbes. The recent discussions about the coronavirus and certain videos on social media have raised concerns about the possibility of catching a terrible disease.

The coronavirus can spread to people through respiratory secretions such as saliva or mucus from an infected person. There’s no real evidence that it can it can be transmitted through the air. Accordingly, anything that an infected person touches becomes a deadly weapon. As coronavirus is spread primarily via respiratory droplets, little blobs of liquid released as an infectious person sneezes can linger on contaminated surfaces such as a doorknob, table top or other surfaces touched by an infectious person, and the virus continues to persist for days. Just like my late father used to say, the experts too say that we must not touch our face especially with unwashed hands.

I honestly did not expect something so disastrous to happen when I was rooting for the dominance of cryptocurrency. Obviously, the cryptocurrency are the only type of money that we can handle without fearing infection.

The other day, when I was about to hand my credit card to the parking valet, I suddenly realized that he got the flu. So, I told him not to touch my credit card as I wanted to make contactless payment. Obviously, this is not a permanent solution because you need to touch the number pad on the POS machine when you purchase something above the maximum limit. In other words, most of the payment solutions offered by the banks require some sort of “physical contact”. It’s almost not possible to complete a payment without touching anyone or anything.

If things get better in China by the end of April, I think people will re-think the way we purchase our needs and start or ask the governments to initiate the steps for a soft transition to digital currency. But, if this coronavirus persists longer, we might expect some unprecedented changes in payment systems.