Fears over the coronavirus have changed how people think about cash.
On one hand, consumers are less inclined to shop and pay with cash due to fears of virus transmission. On the flip side, restaurants and retail shops have discouraged the use of cash to reduce exposure for their employees.
Although the risk is low that COVID-19 can be transmitted when handling dollar bills or coins, it’s hard to blame people who want to avoid touching anything during a pandemic.
That said, some advocates and government officials have expressed concern about the move to a cashless society. The concern stems from a desire to ensure that businesses remain accessible to ‘unbanked’ individuals, i.e. those who do not have an account at an accredited banking institution. Some cities (New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia) have even passed laws in the last year banning cashless stores.
According to FEMA, those most likely to depend upon cash include rural communities that lack access to Internet or mobile service, the elderly, people with physical or mental health disabilities and those who use cash to manage their budget and avoid debt.
The agency suggests that the best path forward might be to encourage contactless payments but continue to allow cash payments with a set of best practices in place to protect everyone’s health and safety.
Best practices for handling cash
How should cash be handled these days? How should contactless payments be encouraged? Lots of small businesses, restaurants and retail shops have begun implementing some best practices to protect employees. Here are some ideas from FEMA:
- Have one person handle cash and maybe even non-cash transactions at the point of sale. This one designated employee should be careful to touch only what’s necessary and, if they want to, maybe even wear gloves. If time permits, this employee at the point of sale can wash or sanitize their hands between transactions.
- Require employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes or whenever they handle cash, whichever is sooner. If your restaurant has an outdoor area, it may boost customer confidence in your establishment if there’s a nearby outdoor washing area where employees wash their hands in plain view of the customers.
- To encourage contactless payments, some restaurants are letting customers pay via mobile applications such as Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Beyond those mobile apps, some restaurants are allowing customers to pre-pay for their meals by calling ahead and relaying their credit card information over the telephone.
- More and more restaurants are investing in pay-at-the-table technology such as mobile POS systems that limit contact between customers and employees.
- Some small businesses are notifying customers of their payment preferences through social media marketing, email marketing and notices on their websites.
- Many businesses are considering eliminating signature collection and PIN entry for small transactions to reduce customer contact.
Want to learn more about payment options and technology to help reduce exposure for your employees? Contact us today for a demonstration.