The World Health Organization recently explained the handling of cash and credit cards could be a factor in the spread of COVID-19 and have advised the use of contactless payment methods. Some sources including USA today have said credit cards have a greater transmission rate, while porous materials such as cash pose minimal threat. However, the preference remains to use contactless payment methods.
As a result, a number of fast food restaurants have instituted new safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include the use of masks and gloves and improved cleaning methods as well as restricting customers to take-out or delivery. The Business Insider has noted that various Chick-fil-a locations have announced their movement toward limiting cash flow by encouraging customers to avoid that specific payment method. Locations in Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland are reevaluating their payment models some even prohibiting the use of cash. For example, a store in Severna Park, Maryland posted on their Facebook account that they would “no longer be able to accommodate cash customers” as of Tuesday, April 14th. Other stores have promoted the use of their mobile app to limit the use of cash. Many fast food employees have expressed their concern and fear of handling cash and operating the cash drawer. Other fast food chains including Starbucks have also reduced the handling of cash or cards by requesting customers to swipe cards themselves.
Although the extra safety measures will help with customer retention, I believe the elimination of cash payment options will inhibit the economic success of fast food restaurants, especially in this uncertain time.