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Millions of people would struggle if the UK became completely cashless, report finds

An estimated 10 million people would struggle to cope if the UK was to go completely cashless, according to a new report, which comes as bank branch closures escalate and calls grow for the financial regulator to safeguard access to cash.

The report, conducted by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and cash machine network Link, found that another 15 million people would face "major inconvenience" as a result of a move to a cashless society.  

The RSA and Link have called on the Financial Conduct Authority to do more to protect access to cash. As an example they want the watchdog to ensure people who want to pay for Government services in cash, such as for school dinners, continue to be able to do so.

Other findings from the report show:

  • Nearly all (96% of people surveyed) withdraw cash at “some frequency”.
  • Cash is one of the most common forms of payment in newsagents and local shops.
  • Two-thirds (64%) of people are concerned about fraud when making digital payments.
  • 15% of people say they used cash more as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bank branch closures continue to rise

The findings come as an increasing number of banks are closing their branches, with lenders saying the move is in response to a rise in digital banking.

Most recently, Lloyds announced it would shut 60 of its branches across the UK between June and September after previously announcing it would close 41 branches between January and April. Elsewhere, HSBC announced earlier this month it would close 69 branches across the UK between July and October this year.

If you're unhappy with your bank and are thinking of switching, take a look at our Best bank accounts guide here. 

If you want to continue to use cash and your local bank is shut, then use your local Post Office

If your local bank branch has closed and you wish to withdraw or deposit cash, then your best option is to make use of the Post Office's 11,500 branches.

The banks with branches closing said customers of all branches will have access to everyday banking and cash, such as via a Post Office, within one mile. 

Make use of Link's handy ATM finder tool

If you've exhausted all options - if your bank has shut or you don't have a Post Office nearby - then you should make use of Link's ATM finder tool. 

Link's ATM-finder tool is available both online and as an app, which is free to download on iOS and Android devices. Here's how to use it:

  1. To find your nearest ATMs, simply search for a postcode or location, or use your current location on the app (to do this you may need to enable location permissions in your settings).

  2. Check which are the free ATMs. You'll be shown an interactive map marking the nearest cashpoints, with green dots for free ATMs and purple dots highlighting those which charge a fee. If you click on a purple dot, you'll be told how much the machine charges.
  1. You'll also be given a list of the cashpoints. You can click on an individual cashpoint, either on the list or map, to get extra info about its functionality – for example, if it dispenses £5 notes or lets you manage your PIN.

If you're using the app, you can also get directions to your chosen cashpoint. But it's worth noting that the app may record your location even when you're not using it, which can drain battery life.

Remember though, some ATMs charge for cash withdrawals.

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