The decline of cash use in western economies has accelerated due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, central bank digital currencies are emerging, potentially upending the existing global economic hierarchy.
Lockdowns limit physical interactions and naturally reduce physical cash use. But there also credible concerns that paper money can transmit the virus. Research has shown that the average European banknote plays host to around 26,000 colonies of bacteria. The human influenza virus can survive on a banknote for up to 17 days; with one-dollar and five-dollar bills changing hands more than 100 times per year on average, the risk during a global pandemic is considerable.