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July 24, 2019

ATM usage, for cash and balances, declining across the UK

By Patrick Brusnahan

LINK, the UK’s main cash machine network, has seen cash withdrawals in ATMs decline across the whole of the UK.

In the first four months of 2019, there was a decline in LINK cash withdrawals of 8.7% in London. This was followed by the South East (7.9%) and South West (7.7%). The smallest declines were in the North East (3.7%), Northern Ireland (4.6%), and Yorkshire (4.9%). Scotland saw a decrease of 5.4% and Wales saw a drop of 5% in usage.

In addition, LINK saw a decline in balance enquiries. More customers chose to use online and mobile banking as balance enquiries dropped 18% between 2016 and 2019.

There has been a steady decline in usage of LINK services. LINK volumes peaked in 2016 and in value in 2017.

In the first six months of 2019, LINK transactions were 8% lower than in the same period in 2018. The total value of cash withdrawn also dropped, but less so.

Furthermore, the reduction in LINK transactions is expected to be between 9% and 10% for 2019 compared to 2018.

John Howells, CEO at LINK, said: “These regional variations are important, and LINK will ensure that areas which are not moving away from cash as quickly as others still have their cash access protected. What is clear is that the sharp drop in cash usage means that it is vital now to reform how cash is distributed to maintain broad, free access for all consumers. LINK is determined to deliver this with the support of industry and regulators.”

In 2009, there were 39,991 free-to-use machines and 23,111 charging machines. In April 2019, there were 49,502 free-to-use machines and 13,147 charging machines.

Changing payments

The data forms part of LINK’s report, Preserving access to cash. The report also stated that cash payments peaked in 2000 with over 27 billion, accounting for 74% of all payments.

By 2007, this had fallen to 22 billion, 61% of all payments. In 2018, it is only 11 billion cash payments and a diminished 28% of the total.

98% of adults now possess a debit card. Also, credit and debit payments have increased from four billion in 200 to 18 billion in 2018. 7.4 billion of those were contactless.

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