UK cash machine withdrawls drop by over a third in 2020

Successive Coronavirus lockdowns led to a 37% drop in UK ATM withdrawals in 2020, according to figures published by cash machine network Link.

In recent years, as consumers use alternative payment methods such as contactless cards or online payments, ATM transactions have fallen on average around 10% year-on-year. However, in April 2020, when the UK went into the first national lockdown, ATM transactions fell initially by up to 68%.

The coronavirus crisis has had a huge impact on ATM use and in total £81bn was withdrawn from cash machines in 2020 compared to £116bn in 2019, a fall of 30%. Additionally, consumers visited ATMs less frequently with 1.6bn transactions in 2020 compared to 2.6bn in 2019, a 37% drop.

Overall, adults each withdrew around £660 less in 2020 than in 2019 but the average withdrawal value was £78 compared to £67 in the prior year as when they did visit an ATM, consumers took out more.

The fall off in use has been exacerbated by the temporary closure of many cash machines for social distancing purposes or in premises such as cinemas and pubs that are closed due to restrictions. Free-to-use machines fell from 45,300 in 2019 to 41,700 in 2020. Pay-to-use machines also declined from 15,300 to 12,600.

John Howells, CEO, LINK: “The sharp decline in ATM use brings significant problems. Cash machines are by far the most popular way of accessing cash, yet a 37% year-on-year drop in transactions places enormous strain on the cash infrastructure. As our data shows, despite the rapid decline in cash, millions of people still rely on it and aren’t ready or able to go digital. The good news is that the Government has said it will be bringing forward legislation to protect access to cash, but this is needed urgently.”