We have seen many changes in such a short space of time, over the last few weeks as the world has stalled in the deadly grip of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Lives, work, and financial reality have all changed beyond all recognition, and it’s unlikely to snap back to normal anytime soon. One area that was already in the process of decline is the use of physical currency, but this situation may well have accelerated its demise.
Already in Decline
As we have mentioned already, the use of cash has been in decline for several years now. We can trace this back, and it has happened in stages. A few decades ago, it wasn’t uncommon for staff in many industries to be paid in cash, receiving a physical pay packet. Still, these days almost every company runs payroll automatically, and wages go directly into a bank account. But now every bank card has a debit card attached to it, and with contactless purchasing, there is little need to withdraw the cash as you can pay by card almost everywhere these days.
Independent Stores Closed
With most states and countries operating some version of lockdown to help contain the coronavirus, we have seen countless businesses closing their doors. Many of the smaller businesses are unable to trade for a multitude of different reasons, and they are the most likely to take cash only. The other group of companies that are still operating is online-only retailers, and they only accept card payments.
With talk of a global depression following all of this, it’s no surprise that people are looking at alternatives to the traditional ways of trading. We could see traditional national currencies taking a real dive, and this could lead to consumers seeking other means such as cryptocurrencies. You can easily buy bitcoin with online banking, and this could lead to a safer way of having some of your money in a second place. This at least diversifies your financial interests in the event of a complete collapse.
We may find that once the world starts to emerge from the virus crisis that society has shifted its attitudes and emerges with new behaviors and a new set of priorities. One potential outcome is that many people will develop a fear of contamination, and the fewer objects that pass from one person to the other the better; this could easily mean that card purchases and contactless technologies, especially, become even more of the preferred option.
Cash not Taken in Many Places
Pretty much all the big supermarkets have temporarily stopped taking cash, and perhaps some will keep this restriction in place once this has all changed. It’s difficult to tell precisely how, but the shopping world could be a very different place after all this has blown over. We will likely see a change for the long term, and cash that was pretty much on the way out will probably see another dip; however, it’s unlikely we have seen the absolute last of real money.