Analysis: ATM Cash Acquisition

Issue 206 | 17 November 2021

In this edition of Payments:Unpacked Tracker we take an in-depth look at the value and volume of cash acquisition through the UK’s LINK ATM network.


ATM value and volume figures

Last week (week ending 14 November 2021) ATM transactions:

  • decreased by 2% when compared to the previous week in 2021.

  • increased by 16% when compared to the equivalent week in 2020.

  • decreased by 34% when compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

Last week there was a total of 31.0 million ATM transactions which represents a decrease of 0.5 million ATM transactions over the previous week.

In 2021, there was a increase of 4.2 million transactions or 16% when compared with the equivalent week in 2020.

The volume of ATM transactions has been tracking very closely to 2020. However, the paths for 2020 and 2021 are now diverging and this is expected to continue over the next few weeks if restrictions are not re-introduced this year, as conditions will again differ across these two years. However the divergence has been caused by the impact of the second lockdown on 2020 activity rather than growth in the current year.

The reduction in ATM Transaction volumes for 2021 compared to 2019 is thus unlikely to see any significant change. New research from LINK published on 20 October shows consumers are withdrawing £100 million less per day since before the pandemic.

The following quote from Nick Quin, Head of Financial Inclusion, LINK, was included within the report:

People are choosing new ways to pay for things, and COVID has turbocharged the switch to digital.

When we conducted similar analysis this time last year, we had an incomplete picture because before the vaccine rollout people generally were staying local, working from home and many leisure locations were still temporarily closed. ATM use in some city centres had declined by as much as 80% overnight. Now that life is returning to normal, people are still visiting ATMs much less often and taking out more each time.

Crucially, even though we’re withdrawing almost £100m less per day, millions still rely on cash, especially in the most deprived areas of the country. It is important we continue to protect access to cash across the country.

From Lockdown 1.0, 2.0, Tiers & 3.0 to Steps 1 to 4 out of Lockdown.

We continue to retain this graph within the tracker as it so clearly shows the steady decline in cash usage in 2018 and 2019 with a similar rate of fall at the beginning of 2020. This was then followed by the sudden steep drop at the start of the first lockdown and activity fell as many accelerated their use of digital and contactless payments.

This second graph (below) shows the impact at the beginning of Lockdown 3.0 and then a gradual increase from January to March followed by the spikes at the end of March and mid April as restrictions were eased at each of these stages and increased activity over the May bank holidays with fairly consistent volumes seen since that time.

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