This study is part of an educational initiative. The goal is to contribute to the development and use of electronic payment systems in Latvia and the world. The study and its results regarding the presence of bacteria on money and their effect on human health are meant to motivate people to withdraw money less often and instead use payment cards when making purchases.
Senior researcher at BIOR Baiba Fogele says: «Notes change hands many times every day. This makes them carriers of all kinds of bacteria. This includes pathogenic micro-organisms capable of causing all kinds of infectious diseases. This is why it is important to study the level of presence of micro-organisms on notes and payment cards. Most often micro-organisms end up on notes from food products. From there they end up on the human body. This poses a serious threat to human health».
Member of SEB Bank’s board Arnis Skapars notes: «SEB Bank’s data across all Baltic States shows that payment cards in Latvia and Lithuania are still most often used to withdraw money and less often for purchases. In Estonia, the number of transactions carried out using payment cards exceeds those performed with cash. Latvia should follow this example. As for stereotypes that force card owners to pick cash withdrawal over card transactions, I would mention the following: the fear of forgetting your own PIN code while waiting in a queue; the desire to look up one’s bank account balance; other habits and the fact that Latvia has a rather high level of grey economy.»
Deputy Director for laboratory matter of BIOR institute Olga Valcina: «It has been scientifically proven that money can be used to carry infectious diseases. Micro-organisms found residing on notes during our study can cause symptoms like digestive disorders, vomiting and different kinds of skin infections and allergic reactions. Personal hygiene is highly important when dealing with money and items often touched by other people.»
«Because our ATMs are used for more than one million transactions every month, it is our responsibility to make sure the equipment is as clean as possible. Cleaning is carried out once a week by a cleaning company to make sure surface areas like PIN-keyboards and other often-touched areas are clean,» – notes Arnis Skapars.