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Half of Americans spooked by cash due to COVID-19

A new survey shows 4 in 10 U.S. adults have started using contactless payments due to concerns over virus transmission


In a new survey by CouponFollow, 41% of U.S. adults said they had started using touchless payments in place of cash due to COVID concerns. More than a third went even further, agreeing with the statement that cash and coins should be phased out to prevent virus transmission.

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With potential virus transmission in sharp focus over the past year, almost half of Americans report they are fearful of handling cash.

Consumer savings site CouponFollow recently surveyed U.S. adults about their perceived risk of paying with cash, and how they have shifted their payment methods as a result.

COVID-19 has almost half of Americans scared off cash

Forty-nine percent of survey respondents indicated they are concerned about handling cash due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Consequently, 41% reported they had started using touchless payments in place of cash.

More than a third (35%) went even further, agreeing with the statement that cash and coins should be phased out to prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19 in the future.

Mobile payment apps like PayPal and Venmo saw the biggest increase at the expense of cash, with 43% saying they have been using these apps more since the pandemic. With 10% saying they have used them less, the net change for mobile payment apps was plus-33%.

See related: How COVID-19 is possibly leading the cashless revolution

Credit cards were the second-most popular shift from cash, with 40% saying they have used cards more over the past year and 14% saying they have used them less, for a net change of plus-26%.

Meanwhile, more than a third of adults (35%) said they have used cash less since the pandemic hit. Though 24% said they are using cash more, the net change over the past years is minus-11%.

Looking at how generations vary, Gen Z and millennial adults were the most likely to say they are using mobile payment apps like PayPal and Venmo more, at 46%. But for Gen X respondents, both credit cards and mobile apps were equally cited as receiving more use, at 44% of Gen X adults. Baby boomers, meanwhile, leaned slightly more to credit and debit cards.

CouponFollow’s survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adults age 18 and older in early-to-mid January 2021, with results released Jan. 26.

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