Is Cashless Technology Becoming Common in the UK?

Over the past few years, the UK has witnessed a significant drop in ATMs. The change occurred due to the rise in the use of credit/debit cards or payment apps. Steadily, cashless technology is becoming common in UK societies.

On average, 4.3 billion expenditure payments get accepted through contactless cards. Moreover, there are over 74.1 billion contactless credit cards in the same nation. The average minimum transaction is £9.23.

Besides this, there are 36.5 billion debit cards, and according to a report, there were 726 million transactions made contactless in the UK in August 2019. Additionally, Apple Pay app has more than 383 million members.

Financial Changes in the UK

●    The Rise of Contactless Payments

People have started opting for contactless payments through apps, devices, and cards due to the ease of usage. Carrying a smartphone, Apple watch, or customized debit/credit cards has diminished the need for carrying physical cash.

Moreover, people availing loans with no brokers or other borrowings can use the same modes to make repayments. Additionally, money transfer, loan application filling, or learning about fluctuating interests has become possible through apps, and devices.

In July 2018, there were 650 million contactless transactions. However, a year later, it increased to 766 million. Therefore, it is definite that people have started opting for using them to make even small payments.

According to a June 2019 Guardian article, one of ten adults have become cashless, and seven of ten have become contactless in the UK. Therefore, the rise in the number of adults remains expected by banks, financial institutions, and economists.

●    Diminishing Cash Transactions

Although cash comes handy under certain situations, and places, the rise in contactless payment is still diminishing it. Some examples include lending money to kids for after school activities or making payments for car parking.

Cash also becomes useful for a holiday or occasional shopping activities. In 2019, less than one in four UK citizens made cash transactions. According to The Guardian, a decade ago, fifty-eight per cent transactions were through cash.

However, last year, it diminished to twenty-three per cent. The fifty-five decrease in ATMs happened during the recent lockdown. Also, there is no clarity whether UK citizens would switch back to cash payments after the pandemic.

As per a Financial Times article, the closure of ATMs has distanced one-fifth people to almost three kilometres from the nearest branch. However, the Post Office counter services provide relief to people. Unfortunately, they are also rapidly diminishing due to non-profitability.

Furthermore, the 2018 UK Finance Payment Market Report stated that cash usage has diminished from six of ten to three of ten transactions. The change has occurred over a decade.

The report even predicted that cash transactions would further decline to one in ten in the upcoming fifteen years. Therefore, diminishing usage would become visible and prominent.

●    Cash Trend Changes

An article published in the Independent stated that one in ten cash transactions would remain in the UK by 2027. Unfortunately, it hardly seems possible due to the current scenario of cash. 2.2 million people rely on it to clear everyday transactions.

These account for almost four per cent adult population. Moreover, according to a report, more than 1.3 million British citizens don’t have a bank account. Therefore, the rise in contactless, and cashless payment seems unlikely by 2027.

Contactless payment is a useful option for forgetful people that require emergency funds like £30 or less. Smartphones provide a convenient payment mechanism through apps to overcome this barrier.

●    Application Filling

As mentioned earlier, application filling has become more convenient, especially for loans, account opening, and investments. Availing loans through online application filling has increased approval rates.

The rise in approval is because customers can view the terms and conditions, as well as compare different lenders, banks, or financial institutions. Loans like secured, unsecured, short-term, long-term, payday, £500, £1000, and others have become readily available through online applications.

The amount received by the borrower can get used for online payments, fees, expenses, repayments, shopping, and other services. Many of these require profile creation instead of an application filling system.

●    The Essence of Cash in the Current Scenario

A few dailies like the Financial Times believe that the future scope of cash transactions is here to stay. According to its February 2019 articles, Britain still has 20,000 transactions a minute. Also, the rise in cashless transactions and ATMs hasn’t diminished physical cash requirement.

Besides this, the article even stated that an estimated amount of £10 billion gets withdrawn by UK citizens every month. Also, it suggested that 25 million UK citizens would find it challenging to go cashless. Additionally, seventeen per cent of the population might even find it impossible.

The last year’s article of Financial Times stated that ninety-seven per cent of UK citizens carry physical money. The average minimum amount for daily transactions amounted to £41.

According to the survey published in the news article, seventeen per cent of UK citizens stated a single cause. The reason for carrying cash was primarily an IT system shutdown. People in the UK still make use of money for offline shopping, taxi fares, public rides, or other reasons.

Additionally, older people that haven’t yet become familiar with digital transactions prefer paying through cash. They account for a significant portion of the UK population. However, the next generation of the same group might become comfortable with both kinds.


Conclusively, cashless technology like debit or credit cards, apps, Apple watches, and others have already become very common in the UK. The primary reason for the shift can get blamed on online transactions made during the lockdown.

Breaking the current cashless scenario would become more difficult with the prolonged lockdown guidelines. Moreover, cashless technology comes with a range of benefits. Some of them include ease in borrowings, fund transfer, shopping, etc.

However, as carefully noticed, cash is still a convenient payment mode for specific situations. For example, it comes handy during IT shutdown, covering taxi fares, offline stores that only accept cash, etc.

Besides this, older people find covering transactions through cash easier than through a digital mode. Some of them avoid online banking systems due to the growing security issues and threats in the market.

Straying away from online culprits requires staying updated of precautions, and measures that continuously evolve. Therefore, cash would remain in the future, but its daily usage would diminish in the UK.

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