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ATMIA: 'Cash is strong in a crisis'

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country consumers are making large cash withdrawals from ATMs — from hundreds of dollars up to $100,000 or more in transactions. Banks, credit unions and financial institutions, however  are advising consumers that their money is safer in banks than at home or in their pockets. In response to consumer panic, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation sent out a formal statement reminding consumers that money deposited in banks and financial institutions was federally insured and that "…since 1933, no depositor has ever lost a penny of FDIC-insured funds."

The word from the ATM Industry Association was that consumers can count on cash to be strong in a crisis.

"We are taking every precaution possible to ensure that cash will continue to be available and to be safe to use.  Skilled and experienced operators know the importance of sanitizing the machines regularly and using bank-supplied currency," stated the trade organization in a recent message to its members and the press.

The larger concern for the ATM trade organization is the spread of misinformation without the backup of scientific proof as to how the virus behaves and is contained.

"Let's get one thing clear — cash is no more "dirty" than most surfaces in our daily lives, from doorknobs to touchscreens, from handrails in trains and buses to tables in restaurants and pubs. Any physical object has surfaces which can potentially become contaminated by germs or even a virus. Even the International Space Station (ISS) has a problem with germs and bacteria on its surfaces and that's in outer space in a void far above earth!"

Health officials said in a recent report on  ABC news, that if consumers continued hand washing they could potentially remove the trace of virus germs on paper money.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the ATM Industry Association was confident that consumers would continue to use and to trust withdrawals from ATMs.

"As we saw in the Great Recession, cash is strong in a crisis. In addition, 24 x7 ATMs can be relied upon in an emergency, [and they] are a vital part of infrastructure in troubled times, as well as normal times, and [they] provide you with a resource that's as essential to your welfare as food, medicine and shelter. Keeping an adequate cash reserve at home is prudent for all households now, not hoarding as such, but enough cash to cover your necessities."