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ATM usage declines across all UK regions

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The use of ATMs fell year-on-year across all UK regions in the first four months of 2019, according to new data from cash machine network, Link.

London saw the steepest decline, with cash withdrawals from Link machines down by 8.7 per cent.

Withdrawals fell by 7.9 per cent in the South East and 7.7 per cent in the South West.

The smallest declines were in the North East, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire where withdrawals were down 3.7 per cent, 4.6 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively.

Link suggested these regional disparities will help guide the future of cashpoint closures.

Chief executive John Howells 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.”

Total cash withdrawals, including where customers use their own bank or building society’s ATMs, peaked in the UK both for volume and value in 2012.

Since then, there has been steady decline as consumers have needed less cash for their day-to-day payments.

Link volumes – those relying on the Link network to connect a card to an ATM other than one belonging to their bank or building society – peaked in number in 2016 and in value in 2017.

In the first six months of 2019, Link transactions were 8 per cent lower than in the same period in 2018, although the total value of cash withdrawn fell more slowly.

A recent report by banking trade association UK Finance predicts a fall in cash usage from 28 per cent of consumer payments in 2018 to 9 per cent by 2028.

Ten years ago, there were 39,991 free-to-use machines and 23,111 charging machines.

By April 2019, this had fallen to 49,502 free-to-use machines and 13,147 charging machines.

Gareth Shaw, head of money, at Which? said: “While digital payments are rising, almost two million people still rely on cash on a daily basis and it is also an important back-up when digital systems fail. It’s vital that people continue to have free and easy access to cash and are not frozen out by widespread bank branch and cashpoint closures.”

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