Following the publication of research which shows that almost a quarter of free-to-use ATMs have vanished since 2018, consumer group Which? has stated that it is ‘now or never’ to save cash.
The research also found that almost half of the UK’s bank branches have closed since 2015, leaving individuals who rely on cash and face-to-face banking services at risk. In particular, Which? revealed that 17 parliamentary constituencies have ‘particularly poor access to cash’, and has called for legislation to be introduced in next month’s Queen’s Speech to address the issue. The Covid pandemic which eschewed cash handling, coupled with the increase in the contactless limit on cards, and mobile payment services with no cap on spending have accelerated the switch away from cash to the extent that it is forecast that just 7% of all transactions will be made in cash by 2024.
Commenting on the matter, Jenny Ross, Money Editor at Which?, said: ‘While many consumers have embraced digital banking, there are still millions, including the elderly, vulnerable and isolated, who aren’t yet ready or willing to make that switch – and they must be protected” Cash is still the preferred payment method for 21% of the population, with 1.2 million adults in the UK having limited access to banking services and 3.8 million adults living in financial difficulty for whom cash can be an essential budgeting tool.
‘Our research highlights the devastating impact widespread bank branch and ATM closures have had on communities. With just two weeks to go until the Queen’s Speech, it really is now or never to halt the cash crisis.’