Is Bitcoin safer from coronavirus?

One businessperson hands another a sheaf of paper money.

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One businessperson hands another a sheaf of paper money.

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid surfaces and objects that other people have touched, which is a common way for bacteria to travel. Numerous studies have shown that ATMs, credit cards and those payment tablets popping up in restaurants are rife with all sorts of illness-causing germs. Plus, despite the rise of digital wallets, millions of Americans still use old-fashioned paper money every day. 

Which raises the question: Can coronavirus live on the cash in your pocket or on the plastic in your purse?

“Cash is not a good vehicle to transport respiratory viruses, however, cards have a little bit more potential,” said Dr. Susan Whittier, a clinical microbiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia University Medical Center. “If someone is coughing, and then they hand their credit card to someone across the counter, I wouldn’t rule out the potential of transmission.” 

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Shopper exchanges credit card with clerk.

Viruses, in general, tend to survive longer on hard surfaces like credit cards and coins than they do on porous surfaces like fabric and dollar bills, Whittier added. 

Still, Chinese banks have started essentially washing money to destroy potentially infected cash before it’s handed back out. 

“Cash received by banks must be sterilized before being released to customers,” the Chinese government’s website recently announced. The nation is using ultraviolet light and heat to kill any bacteria on the surface of currency.  



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