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Whither the cashless society? UK ATM withdrawals to top £11 billion in December

04 December 2013  |  7481 views  |  3 sainsburys bank

Sainsbury's Bank estimates that approximately £11.4 billion will be withdrawn from UK ATMs this December, equating to over £367 million per day.

The supermarket bank says it expects the number of cash withdrawals to increase by 3 million compared to December 2012, taking the total number of withdrawals in the month to around 164 million.

Sainsbury's Bank is expecting ATM usage to peak on Friday 20 December, in terms of both number of transactions and total cash withdrawals. The Friday before Christmas is the typical peak for pre-Christmas cash withdrawals and was the busiest day in 2012.

Sainsbury's Bank's growing ATM portfolio has 1465 free-to-use ATMs across the UK. The Bank expects to dispense approximately £915 million from its own machines in December from around 12.8 million transactions.

The consumer attachment to cash is not just a seasonal blip; recent data from consulting firm RBR forecasts that the number of ATMs installed around the world is set to grow by more than 40% between 2012 and 2018.

RBR argues that ATM numbers are rising rapidly because people still have a strong attachment to cash despite the rise of card payments and new digital options such as mobile money.

Overall, global cash withdrawal volumes are predicted to increase by even more than the number of ATMs - 65% over the forecast period.

Comments: (3)

James Cranfield
James Cranfield - Insight Consultancy UK Ltd - Madrid | 04 December, 2013, 10:00

Interesting article, but I am not sure I agree with RBR conclusion that the absolute growth in ATM transactions is proof that customers still like cash.  

For many cash is still a "necessary evil".

If you look at the numbers in the article, Sainsbury´s are predicting cash withdrawals to increase by 3 million in December compared to last December.  That´s an increase of 1.8%.  

According to the latest figures from the UK Cards Association, purchases are growing at over 6% year on year.  This suggests to me that POS growth is still outgrowing ATM, demonstrating the continued trend away from cash.  

I suppose one conclusion is that cash is proving stubborn and whilst it is declining as a percentage of total spend, it is still growing in absolute terms.  This should provide motivation for merchants and the schemes to plug the acceptance gaps.

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Callum Godwin
Callum Godwin - CMS Payments Intelligence - Manchester | 04 December, 2013, 12:13

The UK Payments Council reveals that £48.7bn of UK cash machine withdrawals took place in Q2 2013, while the Bank for International Settlements has calculated that £193.61bn of ATM cash withdrawals occurred in 2012. The LINK website has this figure at £122.815bn for 2012 but this is ignoring "on-us" transactions – withdrawals made by customers at their own banks' or building societies' ATMs.

Therefore, considering all of this, £11bn for the busiest month of spending of the year strikes me as very low and I would be interested to see where Sainsbury's have acquired this figure from. 

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 06 December, 2013, 15:55

Cash has historically been the retail payment method of first resort. When cards stop working on a day like Cyber Monday, cash suddenly becomes the MOP of last resort. 

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