Money laundering has a new twist in China’s battle with the Covid-19 coronavirus. Banks are being ordered to remove potentially contaminated notes from circulation. Only after sterilisation can they return to general circulation. The outbreak will further fuel China’s embrace of digital payments.

The survival time of the virus on inanimate objects like banknotes is thought to be measured in mere hours, but authorities are taking no chances. Chinese citizens are already less reliant on cash. Mobile payments are ubiquitous in Chinese cities. One study suggests 98% of residents use them.

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