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Will COVID-19 Kill Cash?

Reports that the coronavirus could be transmitted by handling cash has given people another reason to steer clear of banknotes. Although untrue, the damage has been done, and a recent survey found that 75% of respondents expect to use cash less in the future.

LONDON – Four years ago, Kenneth Rogoff, a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, made a powerful case for phasing out paper money. In his book The Curse of Cash, Rogoff argued that much paper money, especially high-denomination banknotes, facilitated tax evasion and fueled the drug trade – all the way down the supply chain: a British study in 1999 found that only four of 500 notes tested in London had no traces of cocaine.