Banks Sterilizing Paper Money to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission

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The FINANCIAL — A growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus. Banknotes may be spreading the new coronavirus so people should try to use contactless payments instead, the World Health Organization has said. Customers should wash their hands after touching banknotes because infectious Covid-19 may cling to the surface for a number of days, the UN agency said on Monday night.

The National Bank of Georgia recommends that consumers use contactless pay methods instead of paying by cash to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Georgian banks, including National Bank of Georgia are not sanitize paper money. This may be the source of spreading coronavirus, health experts claim. Elderly people are mainly at the statistics show that majority of pensioners can’t use their social cards for payments. Instead they are getting money from local banks.

On Wednsday, Liberty Bank, which is in charge of distributing pensions in Georgia said April pensions will be transferred in advance to social cards and customers will be able to use the money and pay only using the cards, not cash”, said Khodeli. At the same time bank said in another statement that pensioners will be able to get cash at supermarkets.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of U.S. recommends to wash hands after touching banknotes and coins. Coins carry viruses better than paper money, experts say as China begins sterilizing cash.

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Digital payments are already viewed as good for society by governments because they help with financial inclusion, they drive tax revenue and eliminate corruption.

Firms such as Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc., American Express Co., PayPal Holdings Inc. and a slew of large card-issuing banks would be among the top beneficiaries.


The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has instructed banks to sanitize banknotes to protect cash handlers and prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in the country.

In an advisory to all authorized agent banks, BSP cash department director Ruth Gonzaga said banks should conduct their own sanitization of banknotes prior to depositing to the BSP for the protection of all cash handlers.


BANGKOK: A Thai foreign exchange firm is disinfecting banknotes it collects from its branches as a safety precaution for its workers and customers because of the C0vid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

The money changer has around 15 branches at popular tourist areas in Bangkok.

“We have to ensure safety for the staff, too. We have solutions to clean and protect our staff,” said Piya Tantivachyanon, chief executive at Super Rich Currency Exchange Company.

“We will send the banknotes upstairs to steam with disinfectant and then seal them in plastic bags,” he said.

In early March the U.S. Federal Reserve has begun quarantining physical dollars that it repatriates from Asia before recirculating them in the U.S. financial system as a precautionary measure against spreading the virus, a Fed spokesperson told Reuters.

South Korea

South Korea’s central bank said on Friday it was quarantining bank notes for two weeks to remove any traces of coronavirus and even burning some as part of efforts to stem the outbreak.

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The Bank of Korea (BOK) said it is also putting currency notes through a high-heat “laundering” process, as it always has, before releasing them for circulation.

“For all cash coming to the central bank from local banks, the Bank of Korea will keep it in a safe for two weeks, given that the virus usually dies out after nine days,” a BOK official told Reuters.

By early Friday, South Korea had confirmed 196 new cases infected by the coronavirus and a total of 6,284, leading almost 100 countries to impose restrictions on South Korean travellers.

The WHO advises the public to wash their hands after handling money, especially if handling or eating food. But they haven’t issued a warning about using banknotes.

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