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Digital India: Risk of coronavirus on currency notes, ATMs make banks recommend digital transactions

Samrat Sharma
digital transaction, internet banking, cashless transaction, digital india, coronavirus, covid 19

As cases related to coronavirus have swelled up in India, the social-distancing and avoiding the touch of other humans and surfaces are the unanimous concern of every citizen. In this unfortunate time, the currency notes that are circulated with regular contact of hands also raise an alarm. The banks have started sending awareness messages to avoid visiting public places and the use of currency notes. In a broadcast message of state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB), it has been suggested to use net banking and UPI mode instead of cash transactions. The RBI is also encouraging non – cash digital options including using digital payments from the convenience of homes.

"Given the current situation, contactless cards could provide consumers who are more conscious of what they touch with a new option to pay and could also be beneficial as the cards don't change hands while making transactions," said Vikas Saraogi, Vice President, Acceptance Development, Mastercard. 

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Earlier this month, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) also urged Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to order an investigation to assess the chances of diseases spreading via currency notes as it can be a serious threat of spreading coronavirus. It said that avoidance of cash usage can not be avoided and thus it becomes an easy carrier for spreading any virus.

Meanwhile, amid growing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, people have become more conscious about their health and sanitation practices and have started avoiding crowded and public places. SBI Research has suggested the government to examine the possibility of using polymer currency notes, instead of paper currency notes, on the lines of countries like Australia, UK and Canada coronavirus spread through cash.