Growing concern on cash acceptance 

New research published today by LINK, the UK’s cash access and ATM network, shows nearly half (45%) of people have been somewhere where cash has not been accepted, or has been discouraged. In the past eight weeks, the locations where cash acceptance has been the most limited has been car parks, cafes and restaurants as well as on public transport. 

With more consumers preferring to pay using contactless cards and digital payments, 47% of those affected said this caused them no inconvenience. However, 49% said being unable or being discouraged to pay in cash was inconvenient. 

In terms of parts of the country where people have experienced instances of a lack of cash acceptance, perhaps unsurprisingly, London came out top as a location (55%). The average for England is 46%, for Wales 43%, and 42% for Northern Ireland and Scotland. The lowest region overall was in the North East of England at 36%.

Since the first lockdown, LINK has regularly conducted research to understand people’s attitude towards cash use through the pandemic and now into the cost-of-living crisis. From the most recent data, the other key headlines include:

  • Most people intend to take action to save money in the cost-of-living crisis. 92% intend to do something to save money and just under half (48%) intend to reduce the cost of their electricity bills. 44% intend to stop eating at restaurants or ordering takeaways, and purchase value brands and/or yellow label goods. 
  • Around three-quarters (73%) of people said they had used cash in the past two weeks.
  • Over a third of people (36%) said that their use of cash will not change over the next six months. However, 29% of people said they will use contactless more often, 23% said they will likely use card payments more, 22% said they will likely use less cash and 14% said they will use mobile payments more often. Nearly 1-in-10 (9%) said they will likely use more cash in general. 
  • Over 1-in-8 (13%) said that they have found it more difficult to keep track of their finances due to using card payments in shops instead of cash.
  • 16% of people said that they are keeping cash at home just in case of emergencies. 
  • 8% said that they have used cash to pay a friend or family member in return for them doing shopping, or other services, that they couldn’t do. 

ATM volumes since the pandemic are on average down by 40%. While people are visiting ATMs less frequently, LINK’s research shows they’re on average taking out more cash when they do visit. Around £1.6bn is withdrawn from LINK ATMs each week.

Graham Mott, Director of Strategy, LINK: “If a shop, pub or restaurant no longer accepts cash or prefers customers to pay using card or mobile payments, we can now see that almost half of people find this problematic while the other half have no concerns. We know some people simply prefer using cash, but there are millions who can’t do digital payments, so being unable to be pay in notes and coins is still frustrating for some.”

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