How Covid-19 Could Transform the Contactless Payment Market

How Covid-19 Could Transform the Contactless Payment Market

March 17, 2020         Written By Bill Hardekopf

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that germs linked to Covid-19 may live on cash bills for several days following initial contact. That means the money you just got back with your purchase may have lingering traces of the highly-contagious coronavirus.

Cash is not the only payment method that carries germs. Virtually all payment methods, including your own debit and credit cards, are susceptible to germs in some capacity. The question is: what is the best payment method during the coronavirus outbreak?

Researchers from New York University discovered hundreds of microorganisms on the surface of paper currency, ranging from skin bacteria to pet DNA and even cocaine. In a separate study from LendEDU, ATMs across New York City were found to be dirtier than subway poles and public restroom handles.

If you can’t trust a card reader or cash, what can you trust to make necessary in-person payments? WHO recommends using digital payments, such as mobile wallets, as often as possible. This bypasses the need to touch card readers. Contactless cards are also good options, as long as the card reader is contactless compatible. Contactless debit cards are projected to represent 60% of the debit card market by the end of next year.

Earlier this month, South Korea’s central bank quarantined all bank notes and burned some currency to reduce the risk of outbreak. The bank also plans to launder the money through a high-heat process before it goes into circulation. The United States has not taken such efforts yet, but the government is encouraging all citizens to practice self-quarantining and social distancing.

No matter what payment method you use, wash your hands frequently after contact. Keep hand sanitizer in your vehicle, purse or pocket, and let it air dry on your hands for at least 10 seconds. Sanitize your phone screen regularly, and cut down in-person contact as much as you can.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 17, 2020. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf
Featured No Annual Fee Card
Top Features : Earn cash back twice. 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay; 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Featured Low Interest Card
Top Features : No annual fee; $150 statement credit after spending $1,200 in first 90 days; 0% on Purchases for 12 months and Balance Transfers for 18 months
Featured Balance Transfer Card
Top Features : 0% APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers and 12 months on Purchases; no annual fee, late fee or penalty rate
Featured Bad Credit Card
Top Features : Reports to all three credit bureaus, perfect credit not required for approval
Featured Fair Credit Card
Top Features : All credit types welcome to apply!