The recent worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world in more ways than we could have ever imagined. One of the early trends emerging from the situation is a reduction in physical cash being used to make purchases and an increase in global mobile payments. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that COVID-19 can be spread through small droplets from the nose and mouth that can land on objects and are passed on when another person touches these objects then touches their own face. As a result of this information many businesses are moving all transactions to contactless mobile payments so that the risk of the COVID-19 being spread via cash is reduced. 

WHO has not suggested we should abandon cash but advises to wash your hands after handling money to help stop the virus spreading. Having said that, many businesses are looking to protect employees by excluding cash from the payment process and therefore the risk of catching the virus from cash is removed. Some businesses will still accept cash however are instructing employees to wear gloves when doing so. 

In a bid to slow the transmission rate of the COVID-19 most government authorities around the world are instructing the use of mobile payments as an alternative to cash were possible as a way of social distancing. Some African countries are going even further by using mobile money providers as leverage in the fight against COVID-19 and ordering the reduction in fees on transactions to encourage mobile payments instead of cash. 

Mobile payment apps like Paynow for Stripe offer a quick low cost mobile payment arrangement for small businesses and contractors wanting to switch away from cash while the pandemic plays out across the globe. Stripe also provides many online payment options for businesses converting their physical retail outlets to web-based platforms in order to continue selling during the pandemic.

So, could this mean that cash will disappear? Probably not at this stage. The World Payments Report 2019 states that cash is still resilient to the growing array of digital alternatives. In most countries cash payments’ share of total payments volume is declining. However cash in circulation remains stable in the last 5 years. 

What we are seeing is that more payments are being made via cards than ever before and this upward trend is expected to continue. In most jurisdictions around the world it is not illegal to refuse to accept cash so businesses are not breaking any laws if they implement these new cashless strategies during the pandemic.

For guidance on how you should help contain the spread of COVID-19 in your business consult your local government directives and continue to take the advise of WHO. Wash your hands frequently, maintain social distancing, avoid touching your face and stay informed. 

Jo Coveney