The independent interim report about UK consumer payment behavior with particular focus on cash usage, Access to Cash Review “Is Britain ready to go Cashless?”, highlights some interesting facts about declining cash usage, consumer perception of cash and risks related to a cashless UK. Funded by LINK, the UK’s largest cash machine network, the full report is due to be published in the spring of 2019.
According the Ministry of Finance, cash payments in the UK have dropped from 63% to 34% in 10 years – and this trend is showing no signs of slowing. Interestingly enough, although cash usage is declining as a share of payments, the value of cash in circulation is growing. There is also a cultural attachment to cash, which cannot be neglected. “We’ve all grown up with cash, and for most of us it’s synonymous with ‘money’. We know that many people feel strongly about cash, and for many of us a cashless society is hard to imagine” (Access to Cash, p. 17).
As stated by Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, “many, especially the more affluent and technologically savvy, now live mostly cashless lives. That’s exactly why protecting access to cash is so important. We must learn lessons from the past and plan now, to protect those who need it in future.” In fact, it shouldn’t be forgotten there are 1.3 million UK citizen that are unbanked and 4.1 that struggle financially. “Cash is an economic necessity for approximately 25 million people, or 47% of the population. And a significant proportion are unclear about how they would cope with a cashless society.”
The report concludes that Britain is not ready to go completely cashless, and the major reasons that are cited are:
In conclusion, as expressed by Head of Swedish Parliamentary Committee Mats Dillén: “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.”
To read the full report, download it here below.