The Greenback is under attack…again. Some are wondering whether it is time to do
away with cold hard cash – not because of inefficiency (it takes time to count
and make change) and the lure of criminals, but because it is filthy. Filthy as in dirty and microbe laden rather
than in the sense of being “filthy rich.”
Although there have been no studies about how long Coronavirus can
survive on a bank note, research shows that the virus can survive on cardboard
for 24 hours and even longer on plastic and stainless steel.
Levchin, co-founder of PayPal and founder and CEO of financial tech
company Affirm, appeared with Liz Claman last week on FOX Business’ “The Claman Countdown” and
indicated that although we will not likely do away with cash anytime soon, the
coronavirus may push us in that direction.
don’t (know) if it’s going to quite put the final nail in a coffin, but it’s
definitely going to push forward,” Levchin told FOX Business’ Liz
Claman on Friday. “There’s way too much that travels on a crumpled up
dollar bill from viruses to illicit chemicals, so I think it’s a good thing to
get rid of paper money finally.”
Obviously, Levchin has a vested interest in seeing
the demise of cash, but he is certainly not the only voice to call for moving
to a cashless economy.
For example, driven, among other
things, by a desire to discourage criminal activity, Sweden has moved very
close to a cashless society.
According to a 2018 report by
National Public Radio, the number of Swedes using cash continues to drop. At the time of the report, now almost two years old,
according to the country’s central bank, the Riksbank, the proportion of retail
cash transactions had dropped from around 40 percent in 2010 to about 15
reports have stated that around 5000 Swedes have gone so far as to have RFID
microchips implanted in their hands. Of course, this concept will get the
attention of Christians and others who will interpret these microchips as being
the Mark of the Beast prophesied in the Revelation. However, those events will be accomplished on
God’s timetable, not ours. But I digress.
Mini cashless environments
already exist in this country. For example, resort properties and cruise ships
routinely offer their guests a cashless option while at the resort or on board
While there seem to be some good
reasons to dispense with cash, the government keeps printing money as if there
is no tomorrow, both figuratively and literally. Figuratively in that Congress
and the President just passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to restart the
economy (and there may be another trillion to follow if Nancy Pelosi is to be
believed). Literally in that the Federal Reserve ordered 5.2 billion Federal Reserve notes, valued at $146.4
billion for printing in 2020.
If you are interested in the details, almost four billion of the notes
were ones, twenties and hundreds.
However, according to the
Federal Reserve, the order for 2020 represents an 18% decrease in the number of
notes ordered as compared with 2019.
Interestingly, as the financial
markets were in a free fall in March, Forbes Magazine reported that companies
and individuals were flocking to cash.
Nathan Vardi reported that a number of companies were tapping lines of
credit to ensure that cash was available to them to weather the COVID-19
storm. In addition, in his March 18
article, Vardi reported
“The rush into cash has been intense enough to include physical cash. Over the weekend The New York Times reported that a Bank of America branch in Manhattan for a short period ran out of $100 bills as customers were pulling out tens of thousands of dollars at a time. Bloomberg News reported that a Chase bank branch in the Hamptons had fielded a request for $30,000 in cash that it had to review under its protocols.”
Even though digital forms of payment
and currency seem to offer convenience and a safe haven from the pitfalls of
having cash on hand, it appears that having a few (or more than a few)
Greenbacks in your pocket makes people feel better, especially in a crisis.
As utopian as it may sound, cash
money does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon.