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The chart that shows how coronavirus is killing cash

CORONAVIRUS has turned a fair few things in our lives upside down, and now there’s one chart which shows how it could be sending cash closer to the scrap heap.

A stark plunge in people taking out cash from ATMs can be seen in data on cash machine use since the covid outbreak in March.

Cash machine withdrawals have fallen further during coronavirus

Withdrawals from cash machines fell to £4.4bn in April, 55% lower than last year, according to the figures from ATM company Link.

But after lockdown eased and despite the popularity of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August, the value of ATM transactions remained 26% lower in September than the same month in 2019.

The use of cash dropped as people stayed home but the pandemic has also boosted cashless transactions as they return to the shops.

Cash has been in decline for some time with credit card transactions overtaking cash in 2018 and credit cards following shortly after in 2019.

It’s estimated that just one in 10 payments will use cash by 2027, according to UK Finance.

Cashless: who's missing out?

Many people, businesses and aspects of life rely on cash.

  • The elderly and vulnerable, and those caring for them
  • The homeless
  • Domestic abuse victims
  • Those with mental heath issues
  • Charity chuggers
  • Big Issue sellers
  • Bars and restaurants with tip jars
  • Window cleaners
  • Taxi fares
  • Shopping trolleys
  • Car boot sales
  • The tooth fairy

But Covid appears to have accelerated the trend.

The limit for using a contactless card was increased from £30 to £45 in April to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Many shops and restaurants which have reopened are not accepting cash, only cards, including high street favourite Next, furniture giant Ikea and Nandos.

Pubs like Wetherspoons are encouraging drinkers to pay with card or through the Wetherspoons app where possible, noting that some customers are using its gift cards to avoid using cash.

But going cashless risks leaving some people behind, often the most vulnerable.

One in five Brits still need access to cash, research suggests, and that’s more likely among older generations.

Those caring for elderly and vulnerable relatives also need access to cash.

The homeless miss out on donations of change by passing well-wishers and low earners and those in rural areas are also more likely to be impacted by lack of access to cash.

Domestic violence victims often need cash so their partner can’t monitor their spending and finances, or trace where they’ve used their card.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said: “Many older people rely on cash: it helps them budget effectively if they’re on a tight income, pay back a carer or friend who makes small purchases on their behalf, and if they’re not online or in an area with poor connectivity it’s an essential back up if other ways to pay don’t work for them.

“These are the people who need continuing access to a convenient and affordable payment method that they can trust.

“As more bank branches close and ATMS disappear from the High Street cash is harder than ever to access. 

“Making sure that older people have the coins and banknotes they need to keep spending is surely in the best interests of businesses and the economy too.”

The Royal Mint won’t make any more 2p or £2 coins for at least a decade as the need for more coins has slumped over the years and Brits ditch cash in favour of card or contactless payments.

TSB is closing 164 branches but has assured that more vulnerable customers will still have access to cash.

As of March 2020, more than 8,700 free ATMs had been axed since January 2018, while more machines than ever were charging for withdrawals.



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