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Covid-19, cash, and the future of payments


  • Raphael Auer
  • Giulio Cornelli
  • Jon Frost


The Covid-19 pandemic has fanned public concerns that the coronavirus could be transmitted by cash. Scientific evidence suggests that the probability of transmission via banknotes is low when compared with other frequently-touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads. To bolster trust in cash, central banks are actively communicating, urging continued acceptance of cash and, in some instances, sterilising or quarantining banknotes. Some encourage contactless payments. Looking ahead, developments could speed up the shift toward digital payments. This could open a divide in access to payments instruments, which could negatively impact unbanked and older consumers. The pandemic may amplify calls to defend the role of cash - but also calls for central bank digital currencies.

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  • Raphael Auer & Giulio Cornelli & Jon Frost, 2020. "Covid-19, cash, and the future of payments," BIS Bulletins 3, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:bisblt:3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andreas Schrimpf & Hyun Song Shin & Vladyslav Sushko, 2020. "Leverage and margin spirals in fixed income markets during the Covid-19 crisis," BIS Bulletins 2, Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Stefan Avdjiev & Egemen Eren & Patrick McGuire, 2020. "Dollar funding costs during the Covid-19 crisis through the lens of the FX swap market," BIS Bulletins 1, Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Codruta Boar & Henry Holden & Amber Wadsworth, 2020. "Impending arrival - a sequel to the survey on central bank digital currency," BIS Papers, Bank for International Settlements, number 107.
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