A new study has predicted that the death of the bank branch and the cash machine will come before the middle of this century – and local businesses must be ready.
ATMs could disappear from UK high streets in just 19 years, according to new research from Expert Market, a comparison site for card payment systems.
The company used data from the House of Commons, the LINK cash machine network, and Which? to determine the average annual decrease in the number of ATMs and bank branches in the country. Based on projections of these averages, the study claims that ATMs will vanish from the high street by 2037, and bank branches will follow suit in 2041.
There are already 3,000 communities in Britain that no longer have a single bank, mostly in rural areas, according to the Post Office. Meanwhile, ATMs are being removed at a rate of 3,600 per year.
Expert Market’s investigation also found that cash payments are declining, with only 8.7 billion cash payments expected for 2026 – down 43% from 2016. The company insists that local traders need to “future-proof” their operations by installing card payment systems.
“If the trend towards a cashless society continues at the expected pace, it’s more important than ever for people to adapt,” says Jared Keleher of Expert Market. “With access to cash likely to be extremely limited and eventually non-existent, people should get to grips with online banking as soon as possible and businesses should ensure that card machines are available at every store.”
However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that many consumers still want to use cash when shopping on the high street – and SMEs could suffer as a result.
“Half of our members say they’re already a kilometre or more from their nearest cash point, and six in ten in the retail sector say cashpoints are important to the success of their firm,” says FSB national chairman Mike Cherry. “Going cashless can be beneficial to some small firms but, for many, being forced to refuse cash will only mean that customers are lost.”
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