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Cash use rises for first time in 13 years as cost of living increases

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The number of cash withdrawals increased last year, for the first time in 13 years, but remains below the pre-Covid-19 figure

Karl Flinders

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Published: 16 Jan 2023 15:45

The amount of cash withdrawn from ATMs increased 19% in 2022 as people attempted to avoid going into debt during the cost of living crisis.

According to the numbers from Nationwide Building Society, more than 30 million cash withdrawals were made. This is the first time in 13 years that there has been an increase in ATM use.

The increase signals a partial recovery from a sudden drop when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. For example, ATM withdrawals dropped 40% from 44.5 million in 2019 to 26.4 million in 2020.

The average amount withdrawn last year was also up to £105, a 25% increase on the previous year, according to Nationwide.

As people attempt to better budget, they are using ATMs for more than just cash. Nationwide found that 49% of all transactions were for other services, such as printing statements, paying bills, changing PINs and paying in cash and cheques.

Nationwide reported a 34% increase in the number of cash deposits into its ATMs, with the average deposit £277, which was 37% higher than five years ago.

Otto Benz, director of payments at Nationwide Building Society, said: “For the first time in years, we are seeing a natural rise in cash withdrawals as people return to using cash to help avoid getting into debt from the rising cost of living.

“ATMs play a vital role in society, enabling people to easily access cash. However, over the years, they have offered greater capability for people to manage their money, whether that’s checking their balance or paying a household bill.”

The findings contrast with research results published in September last year by cloud-based card processing platform Marqeta, which found that people were looking for more credit options and trying to better manage their finances.

The survey 4,000 people, including 1,000 in the UK, Marqeta found that a lot of consumers were turning to credit to cope with the rising cost of living, with 57% of those surveyed having used credit cards to make ends meet over the past year.

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