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Brits see ATMs as public utility

Source: Cardtronics

New research finds that ensuring ongoing local access to ATMs and cash could be a key factor in managing the transition to digital financial services.

While 2-in-5 (39%) British consumers say they do not feel ready to do all of their banking online if their local bank branch closed, 83% state it is important that a free local cash machine remains in their community following a bank branch closure.

Taking a closer look at attitudes towards ATMs and payments, the representative survey of 2,000 UK respondents establishes that consumers increasingly see ATM services as a public utility that is independent of their individual relationship with their bank. A large majority of UK adults (62%) visited a cash machine at least once in the week before the survey, with independent ATMs being among the most frequently used. Within one week:
- 31% (or 16 million adults) used a free independent ATM
- 27% (or 13 million adults) used an ATM from a different bank than their own (off-branch)
- 25% (or 12 million adults) used a different bank than their own (in-branch)
- 25% (or 13 million adults) used an ATM from their own bank (in-branch)
- 19% (or 9 million adults) used an ATM from their own bank (off-branch)

Underlining the relevance of ATMs as a piece of critical local infrastructure is the fact that almost half (45%) of consumers say they would move to shop in a different location which allowed them to withdraw free cash, if the option wasn’t available in their area.

The findings are based on research as part of the new “Britain taking note: The value of cash in UK wallets” report, which was commissioned by ATM operator Cardtronics UK and conducted by independent research company Populus. It shows the ongoing relevance of cash as a key pillar of the payments mix in the UK, with over 83% of adults regularly carrying an average of £25 with them. This compares with 68% who regularly carry contactless debit cards. At the same time, just 11% state that they regularly use their mobile phones to pay.

The research concludes that demand for cash will stay relevant well into the future, as the majority of UK consumers perceive cash to have positive features above other popular payment methods: 83% consider it to be ideal for small purchases, while only 43% would say the same about contactless payments. UK consumers also make cash the winning way to pay in terms of ease of use (78%), speed (70%) and convenience (72%). This picture is reflected across age groups, with 74% of 18-24 year-olds seeing cash as ideal for small purchases (compared to 52% saying the same about contactless payments).

Further illustrating cash’s universal appeal, it is valued as a budgeting tool by the majority of Brits in almost all social grades. This is most true for grade C2 where 65% agree with this statement, followed by 59% in grade DE, 57% in grade C1 and 49% in grade AB. [Note to editor: definitions of social grade classifications are contained within the report which can be downloaded at: www.cardtronics-uk.com/healthofcash2018

Tim Halford, Managing Director of Cardtronics UK and Ireland said:
“While we can see that cash and ATMs remain an important part of the way we handle our finances, our use of these services is growing to become largely independent from any specific bank affiliation.

“As banking moves online, ATMs and self-service innovation are key in ensuring that a basic financial infrastructure remains in local communities. And it’s not just about meeting continued consumer demand – it ultimately helps banks make the digital shift by offering their customers a strategic bridge between the physical and the digital worlds of banking.” 

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