Coronavirus ‘could lead to digital exclusion in a cashless society’

More than eight million people in the UK could suffer in a cashless society due to dwindling supply during the Coronavirus outbreak, according to new research.

Analysis compiled by Blueclaw for A2Z Casinos found that it will become essential to curb the use of physical money in order to limit the number of infections, as pathogens and viruses can live on most surfaces for around 48 hours, and paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.

However, better contingency plans also need to be put in place to avoid vulnerable members of society struggling to make ends meet in a cashless society.

According to the research, if current trajectories towards digitisation continue, 8.17 million vulnerable members of society would suffer due to their dependence on physical payment methods. This includes 5.2 million households - or 80 per cent of elderly homes - that rely on cash.

The figures suggest that worldwide, 1.87 billion people could be isolated from a digitised society at any one time due to poor mental or physical health or vulnerabilities.

At the end of 2019, there were still 212 million paper banknotes in circulation in the UK, according to the Bank of England.

While new polymer banknotes are thought to be three time cleaner than paper notes, research suggests they can still carry harmful bacteria for anywhere between six and 24 hours.

Aragona Giuseppe, GP and medical advisor at Prescription Doctor, said: “It’s a well-known fact that money holds a whole host of germs and so it’s more important than ever right now to try and curb your habit of using physical money, whether its notes or coins.

“Virus particles will be able to sit and attach themselves to paper notes and coins, posing a huge risk to the spread of infection as the money will be transferred over and over again from person to person increasing the likelihood of a further surge of people infected - the best thing to do is to try and use your card, contactless or apple pay when you can.”

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