Ten things you should know about LINK and the use of cash in the UK

Issue 173 | 16 September 2021

Who are LINK?

LINK is the UK's cash machine (ATM) network and the busiest ATM transaction switch in the world. Effectively every cash machine in the UK is connected to LINK, and LINK is the only way banks and building societies can offer their customers access to cash across the whole of the UK. All the UK's main debit and ATM card issuers are LINK Members.

The LINK Network is a fundamental part of the UK's payments infrastructure and cash machines are by far the most popular channel for cash withdrawal in the UK, used by millions of consumers every week. The total value of LINK cash withdrawals can exceed £10 billion per month and at its busiest, LINK processes over 22,000 transactions a minute.

Ten things you should know about LINK and the use of cash in the UK:

#1: LINK has four key objectives:

Source: LINK.

#2: LINK provides universal access to cash in a safe, convenient and rapid manner

LINK does this through 54,000 ATM’s located right across the UK:

  • 14,000 ATM’s are bank branch based and free to use.

  • 27,000 ATM’s are remote based and free to use.

  • 12,000 ATM’s ate remote based and attract a fee for use.

There are over 100 million UK issued cards, an average of 30 million unique cards are used every month, £81 billion is withdrawn each year and 1 billion cash withdrawals are made each year.

#3: The UK is becoming a low cash economy

It is predicted that cash withdrawals at the end of 2021 will be almost half of what they were just before the pandemic. The UK is fast becoming a low cash economy where most people use digital methods for making payments.

#4: Circa 5 million of UK consumers rely at some level on cash

LINK’s role is to manage the reduction in an orderly manner so that no-one is left behind.

#5: Just 1 in 10 payments are made by cash

Ten years ago 6 out of 10 payments were made by cash, before the pandemic 3 out of 10 payments were made this way and today it is approaching just 1 in 10 payments being made by cash.

#6: The transition away from cash is being led by consumers and businesses

The transition from cash to digital payments is not a policy decision of government or a choice of commercial companies but a consumer and business choice that is rapidly moving the UK to a low cash usage country.

#7: The average cash withdrawn by each adult in 2020 was £1,500

#8: When surveyed 57% of people claim to have used cash in the previous two weeks

#9: When surveyed 48% of people expect to use cash less in the future

Facts 7, 8 and 9 vary enormously by location. In some places, at the height of lockdown, cash use dropped by as much as 80%. In other areas, it was as little as 20%. There is a clear link between how wealthy an area is, and how fast it has moved away from cash during COVID.

#10: The Covid pandemic has and a significant impact on the value of cash dispensed

The impact of the coronavirus crisis has been profound. Old certainties around travel, work, leisure, health, privacy, personal freedom and responsibility have all changed. It is also increasingly obvious that some of the effects of coronavirus crisis will be permanent. It is proving to be a transformative event and history and memory will be divided between life before the crisis, and afterwards.

More:

You’ll find all these ten things and more in the newly published 2020/21 Annual Report from LINK:

  • Download LINK’s 2020/21 Annual Report:

LINK Annual Report 2020/21

  • Check out the weekly ATM Tracker from Northey Point:

ATM Tracker