Cash machine withdrawals fall £2.5bn in pandemic

ATM network Link has published data that shows a 52% drop — about £2.47 billion — in cash machine withdrawals in Scotland between April and September of this year compared to the same period of 2019.

The £2.47 billion drop during the coronavirus pandemic is the third highest across the UK after London (£3.09 billion) and the south-east of England (£2.7 billion).

In the early stages of the pandemic, around 7,200 ATMs closed across the UK.

Many of these were located in premises that closed due to government restrictions — shops, airports, garden centres, pubs — or were closed for social distancing purposes.

By the end of September, over 50% of these had reopened.

There are currently 42,000 free-to-use ATMs across the UK and 13,000 charging ATMs.

LINK head of financial inclusion Nick Quin: “Every city, town and village has a different story.

“In places like city centres, it’s less busy overall, so there are fewer people using ATMs. 

“In some rural areas, though, there have been fewer tourists or perhaps the local shop, where the ATM is hosted, temporarily closed.

“What’s clear is that there are places around the country, where more people rely on cash.

“They’re often some of the most deprived places in the country.

“That’s important because while there are more people who prefer to use cards and shop online, there are a lot of people out there where digital payments still don’t work.

“We’re delighted to see that the Government recently launched a consultation to protect access to cash.

“COVID-19 has changed payment habits, possibly forever, but cash still remains important and it’s vital we protect it.”