[Dave Birch] Now, I’ve been a pretty big fan on mobile payments for a long time. But as a rational person with Physics degree and therefore a training in rationality, I know that you should always be prepared to change your mind about something when new scientific evidence emerges. Such as this case.

One in six mobile phones in Britain is contaminated with faecal matter… Experts say the most likely reason for the potentially harmful bacteria festering on so many gadgets is people failing to wash their hands properly with soap after going to the toilet… findings of the UK-wide study by scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London.

[From One in six mobile phones harbour faecal germs]

That’s it! I’m not touching one again! Far from being “dirty money”, it turns out that banknotes are actually much cleaner. That gives the pro-cash guys another string to their bows – damn! Not all banknotes though: there are some you wouldn’t touch with gardening gloves on. But here in the UK, we’re not too badly off.

The richer, more developed and more economically free a country, the fewer bacteria its banknotes carry. Also the material and the age of the banknotes – or the money has a lot wrinkled – is of influence on the degree of clogging of the money. Nowhere in the world were alarming concentrations of unhealthy bacteria on money found.

[From Richer nations have cleaner banknotes]

As an aside, if there’s one thing more prevalent than poo on our money, it’s Bolivian marching powder.

cocaine is present in up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States, particularly in large cities such as Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit. The scientists found traces of cocaine in 95 percent of the banknotes analyzed from Washington, D.C., alone.

[From New study: Up to 90 percent of US paper money contains traces of cocaine]

Is that the best you can do USA? Only 95% of your cash is drug-splattered? Europe can show you the way.

An ongoing research project into the detection of illicit drug use has shown that of a sample of bank notes in current circulation in the greater Dublin area – €5, €10, €20 and €50 denominations – 100% of them showed contamination with cocaine.

[From 100 percent contamination of Euro notes with Cocaine]

As it happens, this doesn’t mean that Dublin is a hotbed of cocaine use. Because banknotes are passed through various sorting machines, ATMs, recycling depots and so on, the banknotes contaminate each other.

geographical location has absolutely no influence on the distribution of contamination. A probable explanation is that banknotes are rapidly mixed by the banking system and circulate via regional depots, and so localised ‘economies’ have little influence on contamination patterns.

[From How dirty is your money?]

Can technology help? How can I pay in safety, free from faecal matter and class A drugs? Well, it turns out that the manufacture of banknotes can provide a way forward. If you make banknotes out of the right material, you can protect your population.

China’s yuan banknotes are bacterial magnets, relatively speaking, while Australian dollars circulate virtually germfree. The difference traces to a number of factors — not least being what they’ve been printed on, a new international study concludes.

Australia’s advantage: It’s currency is made from a synthetic polymer.

[From Dirty Money 1: Expect Germs – Science News]

Can’t we make phones out of the same stuff and have ourselves a win-win? This gives me a great idea for a movie, by the way. I noticed some adverts for a film called “Contagion” which is about the world-wide spread of some dread disease, so I clicked on the trailer. It looked boring and a bit derivative, so I won’t bother to go and see it, but nonetheless… what about a thriller about the back room boys from the note-issuing department of the Bank of England (the most profitable nationalised industry in Britain’s history) and their desperate race against time to find a way to cure a deadly virus that can destroy society and is transmitted by banknotes. Working title “Inflation”.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers


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