Some people predict a “cashless” future, where every transaction is based on a card or an app. We’re a very, very long way from that point. Cash remains critical for day to day transactions and for billions of people around the world. Even in countries where cashless payments are popular, cash is important for some of the most vulnerable who do not have access to mobile, card or other digital payments. So cash is here to stay.

But what sort of cash?

Since they first appeared in Australia in 1988 plastic banknotes - made from a special polymer – have been replacing paper or cotton-based notes in many countries. It’s easy to see why. They’re stronger. They’re cleaner. They’re safer (much harder to counterfeit). And, thanks to a longer lifespan and recyclable materials, they’re greener. Take a tour around our site to find out more.

Do Plastic Banknotes Transmit Disease?

Any surface touched by humans should be seen as capable of carrying a virus or bacteria. This includes all types of plastic cards, mobile phones, payment terminals, and cash machines, as well as banknotes. Although these are no different to any other surface you encounter all the time in your day to day life – such as counter tops or door handles – how do banknotes compare?

The fact is that banknotes – especially the polymer sort – are a remarkably low risk. Research institutions and Central Banks around the world are clear that handling banknotes is generally safe. The highly respected Robert Koch Institute of Germany found that "Virus transmission through banknotes has no particular significance". The Assistant Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand , Christian Hawkesby said, “Cash is just one of a number of frequently touched surfaces we encounter…This reinforces the need for good hand hygiene regardless of the way you pay or accept payment.”

VERDICT: It’s OK to use banknotes, especially plastic banknotes as these are non-absorbent and cleaner than traditional paper banknotes. During the current covid-19 crisis it is good practice to wash your hands after handling banknotes or any payment method, just as you would after touching any other surface.

Plastic banknotes are cleaner.


Banknotes that last longer, take more wear and tear and cost taxpayers less to make.


Advanced security features make counterfeiting plastic banknotes virtually impossible.


A smoother surface means less dirt, bacteria and viruses.


Made from materials that can be recycled to reduce environmental impact.