Last week I decided and I riaffrontato line at the Esselunga after a previous expenditure made at the beginning of April in Milan. This time it was a less traumatic experience than I had anticipated and after about 30 minutes of waiting, I found myself in front of the entrance to the inside, all rigorously at a distance, gel sanitizer available, the temperature detected by an attendant, and away among the thousand corridors.

Compared to last month, the awareness of all that is highest, even among the shelves you’re not careful, the distances and all the time I’ve noticed a reassuring warning, which then is broken to the cashier. Before me, two ladies about forty years and a gentleman of middle age, all three with the mask and gloves of every type with whom they had obviously touched the goods, carts, and any surface of the supermarket. Observing them I noticed something quite unpleasant: with their gloves they pulled out of wallets and pouches, rovistato and paid with banknotes. One of the two the lord wanted to find in her bag the coins that would have balanced the account and so, with the gloves, the has try for at least 15 seconds in his bag arriving at the goal (and touching everything that was inside).

On TV, on the radio, on the web, even on social networks will continue (rightly) to address us the basic rules to respect in order to avoid the spread of the virus, but they are few, very few warnings for those few moments as common as the one in which you do the shopping. After seeing that scene, my thoughts remained fixed on those banknotes, pieces of paper are notoriously dirty, and the receptacle of bacteria, and substances the most different, why not even some “friendly group of Covid-19 tour”.

Came home and sanitized all the packaging I did some research because, even though I’m bombarded by the media about the Coronavirus 24 hours on 24, numbers, estimates, phases 1-2-3, and of the quarrels of political inappropriate, I never felt special information on cash money. I have the wrong channels.

So I come across an article in the Telegraph (1) dated march 2, in which the WHO (World Health Organization) says openly that “the banknotes of dirty could spread the Coronavirus, the one who touches should immediately wash your hands and choose contactless payments, where possible”.

The cash could then be a vehicle of the virus, although there are no scientific studies specific prove without a shadow of a doubt, the reason has led the WHO to consider it such, and the governments of China and South Korea to the sanitization of the money. China, in particular, is resorted to uv radiation and high temperatures to destroy any virus residue, then taking into the money in quarantine for 14 days after this process. Part of the cash the most at risk would have been destroyed, has also reported the Cnn (2) on the 17th of February last.

But as they are soiled banknotes? A research conducted in New York city in 2017, the global epicenter of the infection, where money flows so much, has shown scientifically how these pieces of paper are the carrier of numerous particles, including lots of cocaine. The study (3) focused on the banknotes of 1 dollar, then use payments more common within commercial shops, vending machines and much more.

The list of found elements is very long, includes bodies more common as the Propionibacterium acne, streptococcus oral, traces of DNA of domestic animals and other bacteria associated with food. Certainly the most curious, the traces of cocaine were found in 80% of the banknotes examined, as well as morphine, heroin, amphetamine and methamphetamine in a percentage significantly lower.

Thankfully, most of these findings does not create disease, but there are already studies (4) show the pathogens most dangerous can stand and spread with the cash. Of course you will study or you will already be studying the resistance of the Covid-19 on the money, although preliminary research (5) indicate that the novel coronavirus can survive on the cardboard for an entire day, steel, stainless steel and plastic for a maximum of three days.

The concern, in addition to the real money is, should be , also the atm, in the true and proper receptacles for bacteria, where hundreds of people a day resting their hands to collect that money under attack. According to a report (6) once again delivered in New York, and the “ATM” of Manhattan would be more dirty than many other things, even the most dirty of the poles and underground public baths of the station. You might think that the numeric keypad is the most compromised, but it seems that the card reader is among the elements most interested in.

Returning for a moment to the early history, the story of the supermarket, we get to my turn in the cashier. After seeing a video of a nurse in the us, angry for the behavior of his fellow citizens that you felt protected just by wearing gloves and have demonstrated them as it takes little to touch your face or infect something that touches the face (see smartphone), I always put a credit/debit card in the front pocket of the pants. When do I have to pay, so pull out only the paper and pretend the contactless, which I was already from before the outbreak, to the question of financial security.

Clear that if it exceeds a certain amount nevertheless, you need to enter the pin, but once you have worn gloves, plastic/latex and have used them at the supermarket I give it for granted that they are dirty and it is to throw in the first trash can to flow out from there.

In Italy we are very attached to the cash, is what’s known, it will be for old habits or the need to create a slush fund, this could be the good occasion to reduce to a minimum the circulation of banknotes , and the scenario is a classic win-win. Paying with the card avoids the handling of banknotes and coins (which in short will then turn to the other), you avoid having to go to the atm frequently, it is a step forward to defeat the evasion of taxes.

And here’s the back: in a relationship (7), 2018 prepared by the Ministry of Ecomnomia and finance (Mef) estimated that the so-called tax gap, or evasion in a narrow sense, is equal to in Italy to 107,5 billion. But this count is not part of the underground economy, so much so that the uk’s currency (8) the shortfall in the only 2016 in as many as 210 billion euros, or 12.4% of Gdp.

It is enough to know now that the healthcare expenditures in italy in 2019 has exceeded 118 billion, if we had not such an evasion, perhaps, maybe, we would have had a more advanced system, organized and ready to handle a similar situation.

We started talking about the supermarkets and coronavirus and we ended up on tax evasion; the truth is that our whole society is now connected and interlaced in ways that are perhaps difficult to imagine. One thing is rather certain, is not talked about enough cash in the course of the last few weeks, and of their presumed dangerousness, although even the WHO has clearly advocated the use of the cards for payments. Not all of them own one, it is true, but there are now numerous solutions at zero cost and which allow you to gain possession of it in a few days.

Of course there are the banks: current account holders will certainly in the layout of the cards connected, whether credit or debit, but sometimes these cost a monthly or annual. And then there are the so-called companies of “FinTech”, large or small, companies offering financial services and are easy to access.

I will quote a few that do not have a cost basis and can be obtained in a few days, if you do not know, of course, is up to you to decide according to the necessities and conditions:

  • Revolut
  • Curves
  • Hype
  • N26
  • Money
  • Skrill
  • Postepay

For those who do not like the cards and instead prefers to bring everything on your smartphone, even better: Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay are always more accepted and the smartphone/smartwatch compatible are now the majority in Italy. For this reason we always recommend that you buy, when the budget allows it, the smartphone with the NFC chip that is integrated, through which you process the payment himself, provided that it is first associated with a paper to the platforms mentioned above.

We must not forget however, merchants in this period are suffering most of all; most of them can’t even get close to your business and will still have to wait before being able to return to the business of a time. The government must then do its part to keep the promises advertised in the autumn (9) with the same Premier Giuseppe Conte on the cutting of the boards, now including from 0,99% to 4%. Far too high, especially if to these you add the monthly fees of the rental, installation costs, networks, and so on.

In conclusion, then, expect more than ever payments with Pos in this period, and in the long-awaited phase 2, at the supermarket, at the restaurant, in a shop or in a taxi. It is not only a good economic practice, is now also health.

  1. The Telegraph – Dirty banknotes may be spreading the coronavirus, the WHO suggests
  2. Cnn – China is disinfecting and destroying the cash to contain the coronavirus
  3. Plos One – Filthy lucre: A metagenomic pilot study of microbes found on circulating currency in New York City
  4. PublMed – Bacterial contamination of paper currency.
  5. MIT – Here’s how long the coronavirus can live in the air and on packages
  6. New York Post – Manhattan ATMs are absolutely riddled with bacteria
  9. The Daily Fact – Evasion, Confesercenti: “To foster e-money reduce commissions”