Australians are being urged to ditch banknotes and use contactless cards to to avoid catching coronavirus, as experts warn the pandemic could kill cash for good.
Some retail stores are already turning away customers who use notes in desperate attempts to combat the rapid growth of the virus.
Coles and Woolworths are still accepting banknotes but are encouraging customers to use cards and urging employees to regularly use hand sanitiser.
Experts have said more Australians will continue to switch to cashless payments, and warned those who don’t should wash their hands or wear gloves.
Australians are being urged to leave cash behind and use card payments instead in attempts to combat the spread of coronavirus
Shane Oliver, Chief Economist for AMP said the trend of using card payments over cash was going being ‘accelerated’ in the wake of coronavirus.
‘We’ve already been moving away from cash to credit cards, debit cards and phone and I think coronavirus just accelerates that,’ Mr Oliver told Daily Mail Australia.
‘When you go to the shops, you want to use your phone or tap and go so you don’t touch anything.
‘I think that forces people to go down that path (of not using cash) and once they do that, they’ll never go back.’
Mr Oliver said he didn’t believe cash would ever be gone for good, but stressed there were even less ATMs available to the public.
‘I know some people love cash. When I use it, I always wash my hands after, I never used to but since coronavirus I do,’ he said.
A Harris Farm Store is seen showing a sign saying cash will no longer be accepted
An Australian AWPL retail store also let customers know there would be card only payments
‘This will accelerate the decline of cash. We are even seeing ATMs disappear.’
The economist also said more retailers were opting for card-only payments.
‘I know a lot of retailers are encouraging the use of card over cash. Taking out a few hundred dollars every week might be a thing of the past,’ Mr Oliver said.
‘I think there will be a lot of people discovering they can buy things with their phones.’
A pharmacy in Hornsby on Sydney’s north shore has banned customers from entering the store and will now only take card payments.
‘Customers will present at the window to have their order taken and runners inside will collect the order,’ Superpharmacy general manager Christian Todd told Daily Mail Australia.
‘We already have put in place an EFTPOS-only policy.
‘As I am sure you are aware previous studies have shown cash to have more bacteria on it than a toilet door handle.’
Superpharmacy, which has stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will also take the temperature of staff before each shift to ensure they don’t spread COVID-19
The company’s Hornsby store, in Sydney’s north, has boarded up the shopfront so customers will now have to place their prescriptions through a small window (pictured) and collect them from another service counter opening in the wall
Mr Todd said not all customers were on board with the payment policy.
‘This EFTPOS-only policy has angered quite a lot of customers and we have had some heated incidents at this site and our other sites around the country for people who prefer to deal in cash,’ he said.
Economic analyst John Adams urged Australians to wear gloves when handling cash.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 3,050
New South Wales: 1,405
Western Australia: 231
South Australia: 235
Australian Capital Territory: 53
Northern Territory: 12
TOTAL CASES: 3,050
‘Previous medical research has shown that influenza or virus particles can remain on physical banknotes anywhere between a few hours to a couple of weeks,’ Mr Adams told Daily Mail Australia.
‘As an immediate precaution, individual Australians should wear protective gloves when handling physical cash.’
Mr Adams said if there was evidence to show the disease could be spread through banknotes, the government should enforce regulations around cash.
‘Having said this, in times of economic and financial distress, the rate of bank withdrawals and the hoarding of physical cash do increase as concerns regarding the solvency of the banking system does rise,’ he said.
‘This is happening in both Australia and Germany at the moment.
‘Many Australians don’t want a cashless society on economic freedom and wealth preservation grounds.
‘Such attempts may prove to be counterproductive in both the war against the coronavirus and the Australian banking system.’
A man is seen wearing a face mask while at a checkout in Woolworths in Melbourne