Handling cash and bank cards poses many risks. Not only can you be a victim of a robbery or be charged exorbitant fees by banks and card issuers, but you can also get sick by just touching cash. Indeed, bills, debit cards, and credit cards are dirty. They carry bacteria, fecal matter, and even drugs.
Also read: Bitcoin Payments Now Open to Over 32 Million NFC-Enabled Merchants
The combination of an obsolete banking institution and a three-thousand-year-old fiat monetary system is not only incompatible with the borderless, digital, democratic, and the fast-moving new economy, but is also expensive and literally unhealthy.
Using bitcoins has many intended and unintended benefits. One such unintended benefit is minimizing your risk of bacteria exposure and becoming sick.
Cash Harbors Lots of Bacteria
Studies have confirmed that cash is contaminated with millions of bacteria, fecal matter, and other harmful substances and it seems there is little you can do to protect yourself. For example, researchers from the Wright Patterson Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio studied 68 one-dollar bills and found that 87 percent of the bills carried bacteria that “could cause an infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, such as people with HIV or cancer,” reported ABC.
“If, in fact, the bacteria can spread on paper money, there’s nothing you can really do about it,” the researchers explain. “You can try to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth — where the bacteria would get into your body — and try to wash your hands often.”
Cash can carry not only bacteria that could make you sick but also drugs, such as cocaine. In fact, the majority of U.S. bills are tainted with cocaine, according to Time magazine:
Drug traffickers often use coke-sullied hands to move cash, and many users roll bills into sniffing straws; the brushes and rollers in ATMs may distribute the nose candy through the rest of the money supply.
Time magazine also quotes a 2002 report published by the Southern Medical Journal asserting that pathogens, including staphylococcus, were found in 94% of dollar bills tested. This report also indicated that“paper money can reportedly transport a live flu virus for up to 17 days.”
Plastic is ‘Crappy’ Too
Unfortunately, credit cards and debit cards are also contaminated with bacteria and fecal organisms. Scientific studies have revealed that 10 percent of bank cards and 14 percent of bank notes contain fecal matter.
According to another study, which was led by Shannon McQuaig, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Natural Sciences at St. Petersburg College, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was found to be highly prevalent on both paper money and plastic credit cards.
“Infection is triggered by a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections,” a study explains. Specifically, McQuaig and her team discovered that 50 percent of the credit cards tested were found to be positive for MRSA, reported the Examiner.
Bitcoins are Cheaper & Healthier than Cash
In addition to health risks, using fiat bills and cards is expensive. Banks and card issuers charge unreasonably high card fees, which are borne by retailers and ultimately by consumers who pay billions of dollars to processors handling their debit and credit card transactions.
Also, having a bank account is expensive, especially for the poor. Indeed, an Economist article titled “It’s Expensive to be Poor,” explains why low-income Americans often have to pay more. “Life is expensive for America’s poor, with financial services the primary culprit, something that also afflicts migrants sending money home.”
The good news is that using bitcoins, instead of using bills or fiat plastic cards, can bring you many benefits. For example, to use bitcoins you do not need a bank account, you do not run the risk of identity theft, and there is no likelihood of inflation (as bitcoin supply is limited). Also, the cryptocurrency bitcoin can considerably lower the cost of financial transactions, facilitating secure, fast, and borderless payments. Most of the fees charged by card issuers and banks can be avoided by using the Bitcoin network.
Bitcoin payments can be made from your browser, digital wallet, or smartphone. “Bitcoin on mobiles allows you to pay with a simple two-step scan-and-pay. No need to sign up, swipe your card, type a PIN, or sign anything. To receive Bitcoin payments, all you need to do is display the QR code in your Bitcoin wallet app and let your friend scan your mobile, or touch the two phones together (using NFC radio technology).”
Another option is to use your browser. For example, BitX offers frictionless Bitcoin payment services. According to its website, your browser can easily and safely use BitX to handle Bitcoin payments.
Thus, besides frequently and thoroughly washing your hands, Bitcoin can reduce your risk of getting sick by limiting your exposure to dangerous bacteria, as well as provide frictionless and cheaper transactions.
What are your thoughts on health and safety issues associated with handling bank bills? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Pixabay and BitX