Two thirds of over-55s don’t want cashless Britain despite the majority of them using physical money far less often than five years ago
- 83% of over-55s admit to using cash less frequently than five years ago
- Digital payments, bank branch closures and less cash machines cited as reasons
- More than two-thirds are uncomfortable with the idea of a cashless society
Cash usage has plummeted among over-55s despite more than two thirds feeling uncomfortable with the idea of Britain becoming a cashless society.
More than four-in-five of those aged over 55, admit to using cash less frequently than five years ago, according to Paragon Bank research.
It found 83 per cent now use cash less than five years ago, with 63 per cent stating their use had fallen significantly.
Cash purge: More than two-thirds of over-55s are uncomfortable with the idea of a cashless society
The convenience of card or digital payments was the most common reason given for this, although, security, bank branch closures and the reduction of cash machines were also cited as key reasons.
When out shopping, only 6 per cent said they predominantly paid in cash, with 81 per cent opting for a debit or credit card and 11 per cent paying through their phone or smartwatch.
Dennis Reed, director at senior citizens’ group, Silver Voices believes that millions of older people are becoming financially isolated as a result of increasing digitalisation.
‘Although most older people use less cash than five years ago, it still remains an essential element for basic transactions and household budgeting,’ says Reed.
‘From paying for necessities at the corner shop to paying tradespeople like window cleaners, cash is easy to use and the most trusted means to settle small bills.
‘The remorseless drive to digital transactions through smartphones and apps, is isolating millions of older people from modern society and it is totally unnecessary.
‘If cash disappears, it will have to be reinvented almost immediately, to oil the wheels of commercial transactions.’
Despite the decline in cash usage, it appears many Britons continue to still carry cash as a safety measure.
Although more than a quarter of over-55s say they never or rarely carry cash, nearly half said they always make sure they have cash on them at all times.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of over-55s said they are uncomfortable with the idea of Britain becoming a cashless society.
‘Remorseless drive’: Dennis Reed from Silver Voices says smartphone and app payments are isolating millions of older people from modern society and is ‘totally unnecessary’
The Paragon study found older savers are the least comfortable, with three quarters of those aged 85 or over, unhappy to see cash go, compared to 69 per cent of those aged between 55 and 64.
Even so, the stark reality is that many Britons are finding their access to free cash being increasing impeded.
Only 3,300 UK cashpoints have ‘protected’ status and are guaranteed to remain free.
In February, the number of free machines fell below 40,000 – less than half the number eight years ago, with bank branch closures the main cause.
The UK’s 20 biggest banks and building societies had 9,870 branches at the start of 2015, but under plans announced so far, a total of 5,579 will have shut by the end of 2023, according to the consumer group, Which?.
It calculated that the rate of closures has been running at 54 a month.
In February, the number of free machines fell below 40,000 – less than half the number eight years ago
Last month, it was revealed that the number of free-to-use cashpoints will fall by 1,000 by the end of June following a major operator announcing that more of its machines will start charging a fee.
Notemachine, one of the largest independent ATM operators, will start charging at 15 per cent of its currently free sites in the months ahead, bringing the number it has converted in the last four years to nearly half of the total.
The free machines most under threat are the tens of thousands installed in corner shops.