When I was young, I remembered my teacher asked: “Hands up to those who think money is not important.” I raised my hand and he asked why. Being a naive 9 year old, I hesitantly answered “There are many other things that are far more important than money – health, clean air, etc. He then answered “True. But, you need money to build a mechanism with the purpose of maintaining clean air. You need money to buy medicine to recover your health. The list goes on. It’s a painful truth. But, the world revolves around money – whether we like or not.” It taught me the meaning of “value” and the impact money had on the world as well as external factors that impact the value of money.
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Currently, we are facing a global pandemic that threatens our precious lives. Coronavirus started to create panic in China around November 2019. Little did we know that it had the power to cause such drastic changes especially towards the economy with multiple currency downturn. The most affected currency is the China dollar as well as China’s largest trading partner Australia and New Zealand, affecting their currency drop. Cryptocurrency has been taking a major hit as well with the market crash that happened early in March. The cause of the market crash was, however, unclear.
In other news, Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that was initially perceived as a “safe haven” asset that is expected to retain or increase in value was seen to be a risky asset. For some, Bitcoin was bought at a low price to be resold at a higher price. Whereas some genuinely utilize it and consider it as a substitute to fiat currencies. Sadly, due to recent events, Bitcoin is once again seen as a risky asset that takes investors in a worry-joy roller coaster ride. According to experts, the crash was due to a general panic on the stock exchanges. Consequently, some investors began to rethink their investment strategies by selling their cryptocurrency assets most probably to pay off urgent debts and prepare for the pandemic by preparing for food and supplies.
History will record the occurrence of global panic buying, deaths, and peculiar drastic trends such as masks, cleaning supplies, and shockingly, a rise in digital wallet usage. As people become more health conscious while the government and doctors learn to contain the spread of coronavirus, thankfully, the economy is slightly improving. Analysts predict that the market will begin to recover gradually in the coming months, following a similar pattern to the SARS outbreak in March 2013, as the currency markets went back to normal after 2 months SARS was under control. However, as the economy slowly reverts, what will happen to consumer’s trend of making digital payments?
Digital Payments Post-Pandemic
When experts revealed that cash is able to transport live virus for up to 17 days, people have immediately switched to digital payments in fear of spreading or getting infected by the virus from money transference. On the other hand, the U.S. Federal Reserve increased the minimum holding period for bills coming from Asia and Europe in an attempt to contain the spread. China and South Korea take it to another level by disinfecting money and burning it. Multiple banks have also encouraged the use of contactless payments such as online banking to avoid overcrowding of ATM terminals to withdraw money. These incidents have led experts to believe that digital payments are the future.
A world without cash. Canada, Sweden, and the UK are among the top cashless countries. But, what would happen if other countries follow their footsteps? The absence of cash could attract many benefits such as crime reduction. People are able to eliminate the risk of being a target by not carrying cash as debit and credit cards can be easily reported and canceled if reported stolen. Whereas, if cash is stolen, it’s impossible to retrieve it back unlike digital currencies such as Bitcoin and online banking that enables you to keep track of your transactions. On the other hand, a complete cashless world is impossible as the poor remain dependent on cash. It might even cause a return to barter among the poor to exchange one thing for another in order to survive. This could, however, be avoided if there is a global strategic plan transforming the way humans live. Is it possible, though?