Over 340 ATM's closed every month in Britain amid COVID-19 pandemic

·3 min read
The city of York has seen its number of ATMs drop from 63 in January 2019 to 45 in September 2020, according to a report. Photo: Getty
The city of York has seen its number of ATMs drop from 63 in January 2019 to 45 in September 2020, according to a report. Photo: Getty

Free to use ATM's are disappearing from UK high streets at an alarming rate, compared to those that are more financially viable and charge customers to take out money, a new study says.

Research by UK merchant payment provider, Dojo, found that between January 2019 and September 2020 the number of cash machines in Britain fell from 62,967 to 55,674 — a decrease of 7,293.

This means that on average, more than 340 machines disappeared from UK high streets every month in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the report, the city of York has seen its number of ATMs drop from 63 in January 2019 to 45 in September 2020. This is a decline of 18 or almost 29%.

The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, came in second on the list of cities that have lost the most ATMs during the pandemic, with a 24% fall.

London — the largest city in the country —ranks third and lost 192 machines between January 2019 and September 2020, a 23% decline.

Sheffield, which has a population of over 730,000, lost the least amount of cash machines per capita with one ATM for every 3925 residents.

Chart: Dojo
York tops the list, losing a third of its ATMs in just one year during the COVID crisis. Chart: Dojo

It comes as a separate study by Merchant Machine. showed that coins and banknotes could disappear from the UK by 2026 as the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated "the journey to a cashless society."

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New COVID-19 measures meant that retailers and shoppers across the country have been opting for card payments or and e-wallets over cash during the pandemic, to limit contact and curb transmissions of the virus.

As a result, cash usage fell by 38.1% between 2000-2020, with the UK predicted to be cashless by 2026.

READ MORE: Cashless society: Cash could disappear from UK by 2026

In the UK, there have been repeated calls to protect, which were mainly motivated by social inclusion concerns and even nostalgia.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced during the budget, earlier this month, that the legal limit on contactless payments will more than double to £100 ($139.45).

The increase in the limit is intended to boost the struggling retail sector and make it easier for Brits to part with their cash for goods in-person. The limit increase comes after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) held a public consultation on contactless payment limits and recommended the change.

Jon Knott, head of customer insight at Dojo, said: "While it’s long been evolving in the face of the rising of the digital marketplace, coronavirus has reaffirmed the dominance of financial technologies.

"As we’ve seen already in the press, the contactless limit could increase once again from £45 to £100, allowing people more convenience to tap for their in-store purchases. With more and more people opting for Apple and Google Pay which has no capped limit for contactless payments, consumers are welcoming the efficiency and speed at which they can purchase larger value products and services."

He added that the use of cash is decreasing due to the "digitised economy" making ATMs "redundant."

Data from YouGov, analysed by MoneyTransfers.com, also revealed that only 26% of Brits would welcome transitioning to just electronic payments.

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