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Millions 'will suffer without cash' finds Access to Cash Review (Dec 2018)

calendar iconDec 20, 2018

Due to the wonderfully private nature of cash transactions, it's impossible to really know how many cash transactions take place. Yet, estimates that card transactions have overtaken cash transactions in the UK have sparked concerns amongst public officials.

In this spirit, former financial ombudsman, Natalie Ceeney produced a report with Access to Cash titled, 'Is Britain Ready to go Cashless?'. The interim report was published in December 2018 and finds that cash-free society in the UK would cause at least 8 million people to suffer. The final report will be published in Spring 2019.

Excerpts from BBC article

The UK risks "sleepwalking" into becoming a cashless society with millions of people disadvantaged as a result, a study has concluded...

More generally, there are various risks highlighted in the report from a cashless society. They include:

  • Struggles in rural communities where alternative ways of paying would be affected by poor broadband or mobile connectivity
  • Difficulties for some people with physical or mental health problems who find it hard to use digital services
  • Rising debt levels, owing to budgeting being easier with cash
  • Lost independence for those who use cash as a lifeline when in difficult or abusive relationships
  • Higher prices for those who are unable to benefit from online services or direct debits

Excerpt from Access to Cash (Dec 2018) report

The UK isn’t alone in facing this challenge Falling cash use is an issue for many countries.

The fall is highest across northern Europe, where as few as one in five payments is now in cash.

"We need to pause and think about whether this is good or bad, and not just sit back and let it happen. If cash disappears, that would be a big change, with major implications for society and the economy."
"Mats DillénHead of a Swedish Parliamentary committee

In these countries, while some consumers still use cash and cash payments are still widely accepted, it’s becoming less common, and more consumers are moving to digital payments only.

In general, digital and card payments are favoured in wealthier economies: cash usage has fallen well below 50% in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, France, and the United States. There are some exceptions – including Germany, Austria and Japan – which stand apart as wealthy countries with a strong cultural preference for cash in shops, despite the universal availability of electronic payments instruments and broad use of electronic transfers for recurring payments. (p. 51)

Download Access to Cash report here

About Access to Cash Review

In July 2018, the Access to Cash Review was launched, chaired by Natalie Ceeney CBE, to look at the future of cash access across the UK. The review was commissioned as a response to the rapid decline in cash use, with growing societal concerns about whether we’re leaving people behind – unable to either use or access cash in an increasingly digital society. The review is being funded by LINK, the UK’s largest cash network, but is independent from it.

Last Updated: Jan 7, 2019

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