Cash machine use drops by 30%

The use of ATMs declined by 30 per cent in 2020, with £81 billion withdrawn in total compared to £116 billion the previous year.

According to data from LINK, when the UK entered its first national lockdown in April, cash withdrawals fell on average by 60 per cent.

But despite the significant decrease, on average UK adults still withdrew more than £1500 each last year.

In the past few years, use of card machines has been falling on average around 10 per cent year-on-year, likely attributed to alternative payments like contactless cards and online payments becoming increasingly popular.

Last year, adults withdrew around £660 less than in 2019, but the average cash value was £78 compared to £67 in the previous year.

The pandemic had a significant impact on ATM usage, with many machines closed for social distancing purposes or in premises like pubs and cinemas.

Free to use machines fell from 45,300 in 2019 to 41,700 in 2020. Pay to use machines also declined from 15,300 to 12,600.

“The Coronavirus has changed our relationship with cash. More people are now confident and happy to shop online or use contactless payments. Our research shows 75 per cent say they will use less cash going forward,” said John Howells, chief executive, LINK. “However, the sharp decline in ATM use brings significant problems. Cash machines are by the far the most popular way of accessing cash, yet a 37 per cent year on year drop in transactions places enormous strain on the cash infrastructure.

He added: “As our data shows, despite the rapid decline in cash, millions of people still rely on it and aren’t able to go digital. The good news is that the Government has said it will be bringing forward legislation to protect access to cash, but this is needed urgently.”

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