Cashing Out: The hidden costs and consequences of moving to a cashless society


This report concludes that the speed of the UK banking industry's move away from cash and bank branches is harming many communities and poses real economic and social risks, including to vulnerable consumers and smaller businesses.

Key Findings

  • Substantial numbers still rely heavily on cash: 3.4 million people in the UK rarely use cash, but 2.2 million people rely almost wholly on cash, up from only 1.6 million people in 2014.
  • Branches are not just about older people: Over one in three of 18 to 34 year olds are regular branch users and 25 to 44 year olds are more likely to deposit cheques or cash face to face in a branch (28 percent) than those over 65 (24 percent).
  • SMEs rely on branches for credit as well as cash: Branch closures appear to reduce SME lending and hence are likely to damage employment, productivity and growth.

Four Reasons to Protect Cash and Branches

  • Supporting local economies and SMEs: Bank branches have a positive impact on local economies, high streets and small businesses, including being important for customer services and SME lending.
  • Providing choice and competition: There are legitimate reasons for cash usage such as free universal access, simplicity, transparency, privacy and lack of digital access.
  • Promoting financial inclusion: Cash is the only free means of payments available to the consumer with universal coverage. 
  • Boosting economic resilience: Cash insures against cyber risks and other network failures.

Download the Full Report (PDF, 2.7 MB)

Read the Executive Summary online on Medium


Picture of Tony Greenham
Former Senior Associate, Inclusive Finance

Picture of Fionn Travers-Smith
Fionn Travers-Smith

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