For the first time in 2017 there were more debit card payments than in cash in the United Kingdom, a trend that, if continued, would lead to banknotes disappearing by 2026, according to a study by financial experts published today. The system that allows British citizens to pay with physical money is "at risk of collapsing" and needs "guarantees" to ensure that notes and coins can still be used, notes the report entitled "Access to cash review". Prepared by the former People's Defender on finance in the UK Natalie Ceeney, the document urges the government and regulatory authorities to "ensure that cash continues to be viable."
Essential services such as bill payment should be able to continue to be paid in cash, says Ceeney, who calls for the creation of an independent body to intervene in communities where there is limited access to physical money. According to a study published last December, in charge of the former People's Defender, bills and coins are a necessity for eight million people in the United Kingdom.
This figure includes rural communities where poor Internet connectivity complicates card payments, as well as people with physical or mental problems who have difficult access to the use of digital services.
According to the study, poverty is the greatest indicator of dependence on cash, not age.
"There are worrying signs that our cash system is falling apart. The closing of ATMs and bank branches are just the tip of the iceberg below which there is a huge infrastructure that is becoming increasingly unviable as the use of cash decreases, "concluded Ceeney.