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Will the pandemic put an end to paying with cash?

Cash use was already in decline – and Covid-19 has accelerated the trend, but will it recover?

In March 2019, around a year before coronavirus lockdown was introduced, an independent review warned that sleepwalking into a cashless society would leave millions of people behind.

The Access to Cash Review, chaired by Natalie Ceeney, said consumers needed a guarantee that they can access and use cash for as long as they need to.

Fast-forward to 2020 and cash use has declined rapidly, as people’s usual shopping and spending habits have altered due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

So, will the coronavirus crisis be the death knell for coins and banknotes?

Here’s a look at the dramatic change in cash use since March this year, and what is being done to protect it.

Shopping and spending habits have seen a huge shift…

Some shops have declined cash during the pandemic. Worryingly, Which? recently found some shoppers have been unable to buy basics, such as groceries and medicines, because they only had cash on them.

The contactless spending limit also increased from £30 to £45 in April, making it easier for people to pay by card, when they may previously have used cash.

There has also been a boom in online spending as people have spent more time at home, whether for work or leisure. Online card spending reached a record high of £21.8 billion in July, according to trade association UK Finance.

ATM use has declined – and more cash machines are set to go…

According to Link, the UK’s cash machine network, ATM withdrawals across the UK plunged by around two-thirds (65%) on average in early April. Though withdrawals have recovered since then, they are still down on average by around 35% on a year earlier.

There are currently 42,000 free-to-use ATMs across the UK and 13,000 charging ATMs, according to Link. But in the early stages of the pandemic, around 7,200 ATMs were closed across the UK. Many of these were in premises that closed due to restrictions in place at that time.

In a further development, it has been announced that around 600 ATMs at post offices across the UK are set to be shut by March 2022.

The Post Office is making a £16 million investment that will result in it owning and operating around 1,400 free-to-use cash ATMs, which will be fitted with the latest technology. The 1,400 ATMs being retained include nearly 60 which are not commercially viable, but are in locations where the next free-to-use machine is some distance away.

Due to an agreement already in place between the Post Office and many banks, customers can do their day-to-day banking at Post Office counters – including withdrawing cash.

But despite ATM closures and declining cash use, some initiatives are helping to support cash access – and more could be in the pipeline…

Several measures should help to support cash availability. In October 2019, Link launched a ‘request an ATM’ initiative. Some 37 communities now have new free-to-use ATM.

Nick Quin, Link’s head of financial inclusion, says: “We’ve seen a huge drop in ATM use over the past six months in certain parts of the country, especially in big cities where people continue to work from home or in a small number of rural areas, where the local ATM may have temporarily closed.

“However, this data is important because while we are using less cash as a society, there are still millions, quite often in the most deprived areas, who rely on it. Cash use can be completely different on one side of a town to another.”

There’s also the Community Access to Cash Pilots (CACP) initiative, which is trialling various solutions to help keep cash sustainable. And the Post Office hasn’t ruled out operating more ATMs in future.

Meanwhile, the UK Government is also planning to legislate to protect access to cash. One idea being considered is that retailers themselves could become more like ATMs – as cashback could be widely available in shops without consumers needing to make a purchase.

And what does Natalie Ceeney, who chaired the Access to Cash Review, think about the impact that coronavirus has had on cash access?

“Before Covid, we realistically thought we had two to three years to prepare,” says Ceeney. “Consumer changes brought on by coronavirus mean we need to act now.

“We are becoming more digital,” she adds, “but to make sure we bring everyone together, we need proper planning to ensure that no one is left behind.”

What are your views? Do you use cash on a day to day basis? Have you switched to card payments for most purchases? What do you still use cash for?

Will the pandemic put an end to paying with cash?

666 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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viking
4 days ago
0
Thanks for voting!
A tip for the future, don't buy shares into a company that manufacture money boxes !!!
viking
21st Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
The answer is that the banks will have the last word. If it suits them then the metal will vanish.
Our readers can complain ,even beg but it will be of no use. Just look at the number of high street banks and cash machines that have vanished over the last 5 years, even after petitions etc and plea's to the banks that it destroys our village/town etc.etc.
Not2grey
21st Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
A cashless society is being driven by the Banks who charge the retailers to use the card machines to make even more profit. The poor will be hard hit by this and I feel that debt will rse . Spending via a machine it is so easy to lose track of your outgoings . We must defend Cash .
AnnW5
20th Nov 2020
-1
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Doubtful some people prefer cash as they can keep a better eye on their finances.
Lionel
19th Nov 2020
-1
Thanks for voting!
The answer surely is up to us all. If we want cash to continue, and I most certainly do, then carry on using it. There's always someone who will accept cash, and he will know someone who will accept cash from him and so on.

The banks may try to withdraw cash from circulation but there's vast numbers of people nationwide who don't trust banks and have a cash stash.

Cash ain't going anywhere.
Darkstar
18th Nov 2020
-1
Thanks for voting!
We must never become a cashless society. The banks already have a great amount of control. I have already had a problem with trying to pay a friend a cash transfer, and the bank would not allow it.
I had to go in branch, tell the bank it was my money and not theirs, and demand the transfer went ahead.
Brio2
14th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
The Pandemic has brought into focus the continuing necessity for cash, and I support its retention wholeheartedly. Nevertheless, whether it has a long term future is debatable. Changes in banking and digital services is an ever-changing landscape and sadly profit over people's needs tends to win the day!
viking
12th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I just hope that my local vicar does not read this .
Although he might be relieved to read the views of our contributors !!
LizH25
12th Nov 2020
0
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Small shops, mainly independent shops, need us to pay in cash as they have to pay a lot to banks for using card machines and their profits are really insufficient to cope with it. Prices will go up if we don’t pay cash in small shops.
anubis
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Cash is still important, people like my window cleaner, hairdresser and small local shops and cafes in our village only take cash. They have kept us going for the last year and I for one will continue to support their efforts so will always need cash.
HilaryB41
10th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
There are so many reasons to keep cash, from charities, community coffee mornings, small local shops, pocket money. Church collection giving, tips, the list goes on. How will children learn the value of money if everything is done by card, there will be more debt, this is a very dangerous move if the banks charge the vendor each transaction that will be passed onto the customer, also elderly people find it hard to use cards. And fraudsters would have a hayday
SILVER78
10th Nov 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Some smaller shops still don't have the machines for paying by card. Our village shop is also a post office but to buy bread, milk etc we still need cash. Also our village hairdressers only takes cash or a cheque.
Yodama
10th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
Probably by 2030 cash will be a thing of the past.
I really feel sorry for the millions of people ( includes me) who are technophobes.
The world is driven by people who are so far removed from reality, that they can't see that mayhem will ensue.

I still use cash for a myriad of things.
Spanish dreamer
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
While I hardly ever use cash, I appreciate the need for cash, especially with older generation
Rootle Tootles
9th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I still give cash to my two granddaughters - 8 & 6 - and to give donations to charity collectors in the street. I just don’t want the choice to be taken away from me!
Rosedeb
9th Nov 2020
7
Thanks for voting!
It's fine until the computers crash, then everything is thrown in to chaos , I personally like a mix of card and cash
ecarg
8th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
I have increasingly used a card transaction as request by many businesses to decrease contact between customer and staff re Covid
Cash transactions need to continue for those unable to operate their own bank accounts and small businesses
viking
7th Nov 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
Agree Billy
I don't think that many of our readers have had businesses of their own , so do not realise that the card machines are not supplied FOC, or that the business has to pay the bank etc for the privilege of using their card reader.
Billythequiche
7th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
Don't think so but must admit I use contactless much more often than I used to. How would I pay my window cleaner without cash?
We must prevent banks forcing those who prefer cash to be disadvantaged and protect small businesses from exploitation of fees for card use.
Valleyman
7th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I rarely use cash these days and really like the contactless way of paying for things. No cash means no muggings (for cash), no bank robberies (for cash) and so on. There will still be criminals, like the calls from ‘BT’ and the ‘…about your recent accident…’ and the dodgy television charity appeals. I suppose the computer savvy hackers will prosper. And that criminals will steal ‘things’ rather than paper and coins.
But there are other effects. Money for homeless people, children’s birthdays, builders doing little jobs? Yes all of these could be paid via the internet or even by people having their own card machines. But in reality, the homeless people I have met have not been very organised. And I hardly think a small child’s face will light up with the knowledge they have received a bank transfer.
The illegal drug trade will have to find a way around it’s lack of cash, some exchange system? Or a triangle of accounts to avoid detection?
Finally, there is the ever extending role of the world’s governments. Every transaction seen, every movement monitored. Now that is worrying.
Ariadne
7th Nov 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
I have just returned to Silversurfers and confronted with a topic that that I feel very strongly about .Namely ,the decision ,hopefully not set in stone, .regarding removing cash from our lives and pockets.
I use cash for everything ,and cheques, which are still very much legal tender .It's just one more path to moving everyone down the same sheep track. ,,Little regard is given to people who do not have bank accounts, and paying by a card ,is out of reach.. The thought of paying for an ice cream ,or a bag of chips ,or visiting a car boot ,sale ,
is ,so, NOT normal ,. having to use a card.. I expect comments ,"To get a Life ," I have one ,,,,,,and it includes CASH . nice to be back,I hope
Trish725
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Totally agree with you, Ariadne. I don't want to buy a newspaper or anything else with a card, I want to use cash. It's one sure way to know I haven't over spent at any time. If there's no money in my purse then I don't buy anything.
Ariadne
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Morning Trish,
what a relief , to have someone agree with me . What I have found, by talking to people ,usually in loooooong supermarket queues ,that lots think , cheques are no longer in use ,but I did read that 17 million were issued last year ,They now only take a day to clear.,and cost nothing to shopkeepers ,or users , . I am off to buy a vacuum cleaner today ,my upstairs one passed away ,and lugging the downstairs one up and down ,is NOT an option ,Of course ,I will pay with cash .As I am now obliged to buy a T V licence , a cheque
will be sent , I do have to say ,that the new money has caused me to buy a wallet ,as the notes have the aptitude of convicts ,and unless they are lying flat ,they try to escape,
Ariadne
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
The long supermarket queues were in the good old days, Pre masks .
JE
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I don’t think it will end its use but there will be much less in circulation.
Although I use my card for most purchases I have also been paying for some things in cash, like buying things such as a newspaper only or paying the window cleaner. Also, if I am doing shopping for other people they usually give me cash so I use that to pay.
I have been surprised at the number of people who are still paying cash in the supermarkets and shops.
Ariadne
7th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Hello JE, why are you so surprised by people using cash, ? One store decided to only accept card payment, This decision was very noticeable by their almost empty car park. , the proof is in the parking ,that if he wanted customers ,cash is the answer.
cehodgson
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I don’t want to see the end of cash but it was heading that way before the pandemic
Ariadne
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Just keep using cash . The old adage of "If you don't use it ,we will lose it ",
djl277
6th Nov 2020
2
Thanks for voting!
I haven't been to a bank or a cash machine since March. Local shop payments by card or mobile phone and larger transactions by Bank Transfer or PayPal.

Whilst not the end of payment by cash I think there will be much less cash in circulation. It is also becoming more difficult to get cash unless you use a Cash Back facility in a shop. Many ATMs have been closed or now make a charge (I refuse to pay to get my own money out the bank) and where I live there is not a bank within a couple of miles.
viking
6th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
It is a shame that so many charities who rely on cash,cash on collection days, will suffer.
Perhaps older readers can remember the look on a childs face when putting coins into the collection boxes.
Marley444
6th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Yes I think this is the end of cash in our society - I rarely have cash and don't really have access to it unless I venture out which at the moment is very few and far between. I know in China they are virtually cashless and most transactions are done via your mobile phone - I think we are heading in the same direction.
Ariadne
7th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Working on the Chinese attitude ,we could eventually be wearing black pyjamas and carrying Boris's little book of rules. So ,you are also saying that purses and wallets will become obsolete , ?
MrsPat
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
My problem is getting hold of cash. We did have a cash machine in our local supermarket but they closed that months ago so I have to use my credit cards even in our local farm shop. To be honest I think they prefer it anyway especially with Covid 19 about.
Billythequiche
7th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
We find asking for "cash back" in our supermarket more secure than an ATM.
Munsterlander
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
Probably especially as everyone is buying on the internet now. I am helping Jeff Bezos become wealthier by the day.
Wilf
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
I think its going that way I have not used cash for months. Even in our local little shops they offer you first the credit card machine for you to just swipe the card with. In 50 years I think we will all be done with pure cash
Ariadne
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Lidl and Aldi have no objection to having cash offered as payment.. and judging by the amount of customers in these stores ,people still want to use cash , I think it's called CHOICE .
Wilf
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Yes I agree with you we should have the choice to pay with cards or cash but I do think that in the future we will move away from cash-its just progress.
Ariadne
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Hello Wilf, glad that you agree with me, but then you spoil it by hesitating. It will be impossible not to have cash , how many times during just one day ,do you put your hand into your pocket to buy some small item . It's what we do ,,,,,,, Progress is all well and good , as long as the choice is there . Cheques were to be removed, but they are still with us ,thank goodness ,because we, the cheque users made enough noise to keep them . We will all turn into mindless morons if we let the government have their way as to what and how we run our lives. ,
Wilf
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Hello Ariadne, many thanks. I think it will be possible to have cashless in time. Look at how when I was a youngster we all used cash. Now I hardly ever use it its all credit cards, hardly ever write a cheque I transfer money online. With phones having Applepay and the like I can see us all just using phone payments like this in 20 years and hardly any cash at all. It's not the government it's just technological progress.
Ariadne
11th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Wilf ,,just goes to show how different we are I never use cards.not even store cards . I use cash for everything , even utility bills , ,and cheques for others .No one has refused either , My mobile phone is a Nokia with the ability to send text messages ,and keep my needed numbers to hand, Otherwise it stays in the car ,just in case. Still Wilf ,whatever rocks your boat , Probably humans will be technologically removed in the future,
Wilf
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Yes at least we currently have freedom of choice in the UK Ariadne which is why this country is so wonderful!
Ariadne
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Still a few dodgy pockets. common sense is sadly lacking in some heads. namely BORIS, Closing Public toilets ,was not his best idea. I did email him ,to tell him that the U.K would consequently be turned into one enormous toilet ,,,,,,which it did ,,funny that he never replied. Not too happy about patients being back burnered in favour of the virus carriers . Thousands of them , and, no point in ringing for a ambulance . they are all queueing outside of the hospitals
Wilf
11th Nov 2020
0
Thanks for voting!
Hopefully, with the vaccine, we will be out of this nightmare by next spring!
Gattus
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
Money talks. It says ' Goodbye' !
Wilf
6th Nov 2020
3
Thanks for voting!
It certainly does in my wallet!
Ariadne
9th Nov 2020
1
Thanks for voting!
We all have that problem ,regardless of how you dispose of it !!!

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