Cash warning as nearly half of people expect to see the UK go cashless in their lifetime


Legislation was passed as part of the Financial Services and Markets Act, to protect access to cash

Temi Laleye

By Temi Laleye

Published: 20/05/2024

- 13:18

In 2023, legislation was passed as part of the Financial Services and Markets Act, to protect access to cash

Nearly half (48 per cent) of people expect to see the UK go cashless in their lifetime, new research shows.

Link data has shown there is a decreasing amount of people withdrawing cash following the vast amount of bank branch closures over the years.

As thousands of bank branches close across the country, access to cash is still important to people across the UK.

Figures have shown that one in six (15 per cent) people said they never carry cash on them, a figure which is more than triple the four per cent of people who said this in 2019.

However, seven in 10 (71 per cent) people surveyed still have some level of everyday reliance on cash and said they had used cash in the previous two weeks.

As more and more people bank online, the proportion of people expecting to see the UK go cashless in their lifetime has increased from just over two-fifths (41 per cent), when similar research was carried out in 2019, cash access and ATM network Link said.

Happy couple at laptop

Nearly half (48 per cent) of people said they would find a cashless society problematic


Although UK consumers are withdrawing around £209million a day from cash machines, this amount is around a third, or £100million, less than in 2019, data shows.

As the withdrawal of cash continues to dip, nearly half (48 per cent) of people said they would find a cashless society problematic.

As a way to avoid becoming a cashless society, the Government passed legislation to protect cash.

In 2023, as part of the Financial Services and Markets Act, legislation was passed to keep access to cash prevalent in society.

Consumer group Which? said the number of UK bank branches to shut their doors in the past nine years had reached the 6,000 milestone on Friday last week.

To ensure people don't lose access to cash as these bank branches have closed, there are various initiatives to help plug gaps in the cash access network.

Banking hubs have been introduced as a way to help customers with access to banking facilities. The 50th banking hub was recently opened.

They have a counter service operated by the Post Office, allowing customers to conduct routine banking transactions.

The Post Office also recently reported that cash transactions at its branches totalled a record £3.48billion in April. The postal service have an agreement with many banks, allowing their customers to carry out everyday banking over its counters.

John Howells, CEO of Link said: “Although the UK is on the way to becoming a low-cash country, we now have legislation that will help Link maintain a national network of free ATMs and banking hubs and this will ensure that anyone needing to access cash can do so.

“But it’s no use having cash if the best goods and services are only available online and this is becoming a real problem for millions of cash-reliant consumers. The focus now needs to be on access to digital.”

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: “Despite a massive growth in digital payments over the past five years, there are still millions of people who depend on cash, and half of the UK population is concerned about the prospect of a cashless society.

“People need cash for a wide range of reasons, and the barriers to using digital payments are very real.”

She added: “We are certainly not ready to become a cashless society.”


Lord Holmes of Richmond, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on FinTech said: “We are clearly heading towards a digital future and while some of the benefits will be transformational to society and the economy, there is a clear and present risk that we are moving forward without a clear plan to bring everyone on that journey.

“There are already real-life examples where the shift to digital is penalising those who can’t use tech at the moment. This should be an opportunity to bring everyone forward and we cannot afford to waste it.”

He added: “Financial inclusion and digital inclusion are so inextricably linked. We need to enable both.”

A spokesperson for UK Finance said: “While many people choose to pay using card, there are still plenty of people who prefer to use cash.

“The number of cash payments has decreased over the last decade and we expect cash usage to continue to fall, however, the finance industry is committed to ensuring access to cash for those who want to use it. Firms also have support and guidance available for anyone who needs help with using digital banking services.”

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