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Beyond the Transaction: Every Transaction Has a Story
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How Clean is Your Cash?

That’s the question we’ve all been asking ourselves this week as survey findings reveal that a staggering 57% of Europeans believe that bank notes and coins are the least hygienic items they come into contact with, ahead of even escalator handrails!MasterCard Europe Dirty Cash Infographic

Independent research conducted on behalf of MasterCard asked people in 15 different countries across Europe which item they perceive to be the dirtiest, in a list of items including escalator handrails, library books, payment terminals and cash. In all 15 countries people said they believe cash to be the dirtiest!

To investigate these perceptions further, we commandeered the help of Dr. Ian Thompson, Professor of Engineering Science at Oxford University, who tested a selection of bank notes for us to get an indication of whether people’s perceptions are matched by science. And it seems they are! The notes tested harboured an average of around 26,000 bacteria, many of which can pass on infection. “Europeans’ perceptions of dirty cash are not without reason,” he tells us. “Previous studies, too, have indicated contamination with potentially harmful bacteria which can cause disease in humans.”

The #DirtyCash news too, also seems to be spreading (please excuse the pun)… Here’s a flavor of some of the coverage achieved:

  •  “Well you’ll excuse me if I take suitable precautions when handling this stuff!” said CNN’s Richard Quest, who interviewed Hany Fam about the perils of dirty cash
  •  “Most Europeans now prefer to pay by card and the majority also find it more hygienic”, said the UK’s most popular free morning paper, Metro
  •  “Los billetes y las monedas son los objetos más sucios para el 63% de los españoles (Banknotes and coins are the dirtiest objects for 63% of the Spanish)” reported one of Spain’s main business titles, Expansión
  •  “Svenska kontanter – en bakteriebomb (Swedish bank notes are a bacterial bomb), said two of Sweden’s main dailies – Svenska Dagbladet and Aftonbladet
  •  “Contant geld is ontzettend smerig (Cash is extremely dirty)”, reported Dutch national De Teelgraaf

So, as the attention turns to Easter holidays, it seems we have yet another reason to think twice about paying cash when out and about. Consumers are already telling us they find other methods simpler and more straightforward and now it seems that, across Europe, hygiene is also playing a part in the decision on how to pay.  So be sure your Easter chocolate stays germ free and don’t let dirty cash anywhere near your chocolate bunny!