The Access to Cash Review recently published its final recommendations calling on the Government, regulators and banks to act now or risk leaving millions behind. The review concludes that digital payments don’t yet work for everyone and around eight million adults (17% of the population) would struggle to cope in a cashless society.
According to the review, cash is only used for three in every ten transactions, down from six in ten a decade ago and is forecast a fall to as low as one in ten transactions within the next 15 years. This shift away from cash towards digital payments is placing significant strain on the UK’s cash infrastructure which currently costs around £5 billion a year to run. As bank branches and ATMs continue to close, the economics of handling and accepting cash will lead to an increasing number of retailers to go cashless. Given these pressures, the review warns against leaving access to cash to market forces, and urges the government and financial services regulators to take action to ensure cash remains viable for as long as people need it.
The review gathered evidence from more than 120 organisations from across the leisure, retail, financial, charity and business sectors. It also travelled the country, taking evidence from thousands of people including workshops in places including Shetland, Porthmadog and Bournemouth to understand the current needs of consumers and groups across the UK. The review also explored the lessons learned from Sweden and China.
In its interim report ‘Is Britain ready to go cashless’ the review identified approximately eight million people who would be left behind. The panel will meet again in September to discuss the impact of the Review and to assess whether further action is necessary.