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Link data highlights inexorable decline in cash usage

New data from the UK’s Link ATM network shows an ongoing decline in the use of cash machines for withdrawing money and checking balances, as contactless cards and mobile banking services take hold.

In the first four months of 2019 compared with the same period of 2018 there was an 8.7% decline in Link cash withdrawals in London. The data highlights regional disparities in the trend, with the more working class North East showing the smallest drop at -3.7%.

John Howells, CEO at Link says: “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.”

Additionally, the data also shows a long-term decline in balance enquiries. With more customers choosing to use online and mobile banking, balance enquiries have fallen by 18% from 2016 to 2019.

The numbers are in line with a recent UK Payment Markets report by UK Finance that predicts a fall in cash usage from 28% of consumer payments in 2018 to only 9% by 2028.

Looking forward, the rate of decline in Link transactions appears to be accelerating, says Howells, and is currently expected to be at least between 9% and 10% for 2019 as a whole when compared with 2018.

Howells comments: “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.”