Friday, October 30, 2009

Could H1N1 Hysteria Cause Financial Disruption?

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In recent weeks news coverage of the H1N1 swine flu has become beyond impossible to avoid.  People have changed their habits in response to H1N1, most have been common sense changes in habit such as more frequent hand washing, and a few have become agoraphobic because of the scare of swine flu.  One of the changes of habit seen in people's shopping habits is not what people are buying but how people are paying for purchases.  Fewer and fewer people are choosing to use cash instead opting to use debit and credit cards instead.  Most medical experts view money as a harbinger for germs and viruses.

With the Christmas shopping season just a few weeks away fears are arising that Canada's Interac network that handles debit transactions that bogs down in the days leading up to Christmas in normal years could be completely brought down under the strain of millions of attempted transactions from those concerned over H1N1.  Even credit card transactions could face slow down as millions of more dollars that would have been handed over in cash gets put on plastic instead. 

The best way to avoid any disruptions when paying using a debit or credit card this Christmas shopping season is to shop early.  The later people leave Christmas shopping the greater the chance of disruptions to the financial networks that process debit and credit transactions will be.  If last minute shopping is unavoidable, then the best way to shop without problems is to face your fears and just hit the ATM and get cash, because cash is the only payment method that cannot be disrupted.

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