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Coronavirus

Japanese shun ATMs amid fears of coronavirus-infected cash

Banks in Tokyo see 60% drop in withdrawals as people stay home

Cold cash seems to be viewed as likely source of infection by many Japanese.    © Reuters

TOKYO -- Consumers in Japan are shunning cash amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As of mid-April, bank ATMs in the capital have seen a 60% drop in cash withdrawals compared with a month ago. While the country's emergency declaration has prompted people to stay home, it also appears they are trying to avoid risk of infection through paper money.

Nikkei asked megabanks MUFG Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation for usage rates on ATMs located in major districts. Each ATM experienced a roughly 60% drop in withdrawals. Similar tendencies were also seen at Mizuho Bank.

According to the Bank for International Settlements, the U.K. has also witnessed a 20% decline in withdrawals as of mid-March.

Japanese have flooded banks with requests and inquiries, such as asking that bills in ATMs be replaced with new ones and wanting to know if ATM screens are being disinfected.

Research by the U.S.National Institutes of Health Health has shown that the virus can survive on certain types of paper surfaces for up to 24 hours, three hours longer than in air.

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