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Money habits: Brits reject cashless society and boycott bank branches

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Despite the inexorable rise of contactless payments, over a third of Britons are uncomfortable with a cashless future. Meanwhile, fewer and fewer customers are heading into bank branches.

A Paragon Bank survey has revealed that more than two thirds of over-55s are uncomfortable with teh idea of truly cashless society despite over 80% using cash less frequently than five years ago.

Almost two thirds of respondents stated their cash usage had fallen ‘significantly’ and over three quarters of those aged 85+ were unhappy to see cash go.

Derek Sprawling, Paragon Bank director of savings, said, “There is a perception that it is the younger generation who are driving this change, but our research shows that over-55s are comfortable transitioning to non-cash payments.

“However, despite the reduced use of physical money, the majority of this group don’t like the idea of a cashless society and seem to still value the tangible aspect of money.”

Cards take over

Over a quarter of those surveyed admitted to never or rarely carrying cash, but almost half shared that they ensure to always have cash on hand. Over half of those in Northern Ireland, Yorkshire and Humber, East England, and the North West carry cash at all times, whereas those in Wales and North East, the West Midlands and the South West are less likely to do so.

Respondents overwhelmingly pay for goods and services with a credit or debit card and only 11% use smartphones or smartwatches. A mere 6% pay in cash. The most common reason cited for this was the convenience of digital payments, but security, branch closures, and reduction of cash machines were also contributors.

Sprawling said: “The way we pay for goods and services has changed rapidly over the past five years, with the migration from cash to card payments, and now through to digital transactions via our phones and smartwatches.”

Of all respondents, 15% said they would be happy to see the back of physical cash, but a report earlier this year also noted that a cashless Britain is creating complications for customers.

Bye bye to branches?

Banking habits have also changed significantly, with 84% preferring online banking and only 35% using a branch. A total of 10% currently use telephone or banking via post. One fifth have not visited a branch in over a year, a quarter visited in the past six months, and a third have been into a branch within the last month. Just under 10% could not remember the last time they visited their bank.

This rejection of bank branches could be down to the fact that they are beginning to disappear from the nation’s high streets. More than 400 bank branches have already closed or are due to be shuttered in 2023, with Barclays the latest to confirm it is pulling out of a further 11 locations this summer.