Three in four think Covid will affect cash use in coming months – survey

Three in four people think Covid-19 will continue to affect their use of cash going into 2021, a survey has found.

Some 75% of people surveyed across the UK by YouGov in late November said they believed coronavirus would affect their use of cash across the next six months.

The survey of more than 2,000 people was carried out for ATM network Link.

Nearly half (48%) of people think they will use cards more, 37% will rely more on contactless and mobile payments and 36% believe they will shop more online.

Overall, 72% of people surveyed in late November said they have been using cash less since the outbreak of Covid-19.

But for some, using cash less has been making it harder to keep track of their finances.

One in 12 (8%) said using card payments in shops instead of cash is making it harder to keep up.

Cash has also proved useful in some situations during lockdowns, with 8% of people saying they have used cash to pay a friend or family member in return for them doing their shopping or helping with something else.

One in six (15%) people also said they were keeping extra cash at home in case of emergencies.

The research also found that the issue of some shops discouraging cash payments during the pandemic had been causing problems for customers.

More than a quarter (27%) of consumers said that they had experienced situations where they had wanted to pay for something in cash but had to use a card as the place they were in discouraged cash payments.

And around one in seven (13%) had wanted to use coins or banknotes, but as the place they were in was no longer accepting cash, they did not make a purchase.

John Howells, CEO of Link, said: “Covid-19 is transforming our relationship with cash.

“Year-on-year we’ve seen a decline in the number of cash withdrawals from ATMs of almost 40%. In normal times, we may have expected this over five years, but it’s happened in nine months.

“However, it’s important to remember that even during a pandemic and with multiple lockdowns, more than £1.6 billion is withdrawn every week from ATMs.”

He added: “We’re pleased the Government will be putting forward legislation in early 2021 to protect access to cash, but we need this urgently.”

Nearly a quarter (24%) of consumers surveyed said they were taking extra hygiene precautions when using cash.

However, a recent Bank of England study indicated that the risk of getting coronavirus from banknotes is low.

Overall, 60% of people surveyed in late November said that they had used cash in the previous two weeks to pay for goods and services.

The proportions of people who had not used cash in the previous two weeks to pay for goods and services ranged from, at one end of the spectrum, 48% in south-west England, 47% in Wales and 46% in north-west England to, at the other end of the spectrum, 23% in Northern Ireland, 32% in north-east England, 33% in Scotland and 35% in London.

The report said people aged 55 and over lead the way in most spending categories when it comes to spending using cash, particularly in convenience stores and paying for work in the house.

But it added that younger age groups continue to spend using coins and banknotes – with adults aged 24 and under leading the way for cash spending in pubs, restaurants and on public transport.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which? said the pandemic has put added strain on the UK’s “frail cash network”.

He said: “Our research shows some of the most vulnerable, who rely on cash to pay for essential goods and services, are at risk of being excluded as the UK accelerates towards a cashless society before they are ready.

“The Government must urgently press ahead with its promised legislation to ensure consumers have access to cash for as long as they need it.

“The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) must also closely track cash acceptance, as protecting access to cash will be undermined if there is nowhere to spend it.”

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