As Coronavirus quickly spreads, the world is beginning to fear another pandemic contagion. Aided by the perpetual hand-to-hand interchange of banknotes and coins, viruses advance much more rapidly.
The world is slowly becoming cashless, but could cryptocurrencies actually be the antidote against the spread of diseases like Coronavirus?
Scientist and medical professionals have long feared a new global epidemic sweeping the planet. A recent 2019 report commissioned by the United Nations entitled A World At Risk states that a global epidemic has the potential to kill up to 80 million people and wipe out 5 percent of the global economy.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
In early December 2019, a new and deadly virus originated from a fish and animal market in Wuhan City, China. The virus now known as 2019-nCoV is identified as being from a large and highly contagious family of viruses known as coronaviruses – often associated with the common cold.
Jump forward a month and hundreds of people hospitalized, dozens are dead, and cities are being quarantined. Despite the best efforts of the Chinese government the virus has spread to several countries around the globe. Scientists now suggest an explosion of cases will hit Wuhan, and more international cases, too.
Coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory illnesses and are generally contracted through airborne transmissions such as sneezing and coughing. However, if the virus was to mutate and evolve different transmission vectors, it could have serious consequences for Fiat currencies.
A case in point being Dr. Wang Guangfa, who was a leading figure in the fight against SARS virus that gripped China in 2003. He has claimed the virus can be spread through eye contact after he himself contracted the virus following an eye infection. This theory, if proven correct, opens the real possibility of infection by touching objects infected people have touched.
Should We Fear Infectious Fiat Currencies?
Fiat currencies in the form of paper and coins are potential vectors of transmittable disease. They are a circulating a medium of exchange, passed around between individuals multiple times per day and are a known breading ground for pathogens and bacteria.
In fact, fiat currencies are known to carry more germs than a household toilet.
It must be stated, Dr. Wang Guangfa’s theory is yet to be confirmed. However, if the Coronavirus was to mutate and transmit through direct contact, it opens the real possibility of Fiat currencies spreading a worldwide pandemic.
Cash, swapped among countless random people, has the potential to be exposed to dangerous airborne pathogens, especially if a carrier coughs or sneezes on their hands before handling it.
Airborne pathogens have been known to last up to 45 minutes. However, research has shown that fiat currencies are more hospitable environments for Gross microbes.
Through direct contact bacteria can live on most surfaces for about 48 hours, but paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days, massively increasing the risk of infection.
Dr. Jim O’Mahony, a lecturer in Biological Sciences at The Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland, noted that there are no firmly adopted international guidelines on the use of handling cash during outbreaks.
Dr. O’Mahoney has even advised consumers to avoid potentially germ-ridden paper money. ‘Cashless transactions would be a logical answer to keeping people healthy,’ he says.
Many governments, especially in Scandinavia, are trying to go cashless. You will struggle to spend paper or coins in Stockholm and to a lesser degree Oslo. China is also trying to go cashless, but with breakouts like Coronavirus we know the Chinese government needs to accelerate its attempts.
China is as the forefront of creating a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), however. Other governments are showing interest, too, and with a stablecoin that can only be spent digitally, it will no doubt slow the spread of airborne pathogens.
Proponents of a cash free society have long advocated Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a far more hygienic and safer way of transacting. Like CBDCs, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies live only on the Internet, so they also dramatically cut the spread disease of disease.
Many people liken the popularity of Bitcoin to that of a spreading, infectious disease. As governments and banks are discovering, however, Bitcoin is not a disease, but actually the cure.
The spread of Coronavirus is starting to worry people around the world. China might be the nerve center of this latest scare, but with the ubiquity of banknotes and coins, it is quickly escalating.
A cashless world society is a long way off. However, governments know of the dangers associated with disease and fiat currencies, and as people become more aware of the dangers, there might be an increased demand for alternative payment systems.
Governments are trying to introduce digital payment societies through CBDCs, but with the speed bureaucracy moves, they are a long way off. No doubt Coronavirus will be long gone before government stablecoins are forced upon us.
This might just help Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gain traction. To finish with a pun, the virus is spreading, but as society rejects paper and coins, it might just realize that Bitcoin is the cure of all cures.
Contact the author: