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Study Shows A Cashless Society Would Create A North-South Divide

Card machine shutterstock_159873380 725 x 500
  • County Down in Northern Ireland is the UK’s most cash-reliant county, according to new PayPoint research
  • A cashless society would create a north-south divide as all major cash-reliant counties are in the north of England, the West Midlands or the devolved nations
  • Over two thirds (67%) of all purchases in PayPoint’s network of convenience stores were made in cash over FY 2020/21
  • One in five (21%) people in the UK used an ATM 2-3 times per week in the past year

According to new research from PayPoint published today, County Down in Northern Ireland is the most cash-reliant county in the UK. The new research combines PayPoint sales data, looking at cash as an overall percentage of transactions in its network of 28,000 UK stores over FY20/21, with regional attitudinal data* of how many people say they are reliant on cash. 

Of the 48 UK counties included in the study**, 43 have an overall cash reliance score of >50%, indicating that the need for cash by millions of people to support day-to-day expenditure is still of major importance across the whole of the UK. 

The research also reveals how a north-south divide could emerge in a cashless society, with the most cash-reliant counties spread across the north of England, the West Midlands and the devolved nations. After County Down, County Antrim, Lanarkshire, Merseyside and County Durham all feature highly in the ranking. 

Furthermore, the data shows that:

  • Two thirds of all transactions in PayPoint’s network of convenience stores – which have boomed in popularity as people shopped locally during the pandemic – are made in cash
  • One in five (21%) people across the UK still use an ATM two to three times a week
  • 64% of Brits think more should be done to protect cash, rising to 67% in Scotland 

Nick Wiles, Chief Executive of PayPoint, said: “Among continued sensationalism and scaremongering over the decline of cash, it is more important than ever that we recognise its continued importance to communities around the UK. 

“Despite the rise of digital payments during the pandemic, we must not forget that many people are still reliant on cash, and they are also often the most vulnerable in society. This is why PayPoint remains committed that, through our 28,000 strong retailer network, any individual can access cash whenever they need it. Later this year we will begin a nation-wide roll out of a new Over The Counter service for those who require cash in exact denominations, following its hugely successful 2021 trial period. This will allow anyone in the UK who needs to make exact withdrawals, down to the penny, to do so without relying on meeting the minimum requirements of ATMs. 

“It is the continued investment in such services that demonstrates PayPoint puts action over hyperbole in its ambition to safeguard cash access over the long term. I would urge our industry partners, competitors and Westminster to do the same.” 

The UK’s cash reliance county rankings are as follows: 

UK County

Cash reliance score***

County Down

69%

County Antrim

64%

Lanarkshire

64%

West Midlands

64%

Merseyside

64%

County Durham

63%

South Yorkshire

63%

Midlothian

63%

Lancashire

63%

Renfrewshire

63%

West Yorkshire

62%

Angus

62%

Gwent

62%

Norfolk

62%

Greater Manchester

62%

Stirlingshire

62%

North Yorkshire

62%

Fife

61%

Greater London

61%

Mid Glamorgan

61%

Cleveland

61%

Tyne and Wear

61%

Cheshire

60%

Middlesex

60%

West Lothian

59%

Staffordshire

59%

Derbyshire

58%

Gwynedd

58%

Essex

57%

Warwickshire

57%

Shropshire

56%

Leicestershire

56%

South Glamorgan

55%

Lincolnshire

55%

Bedfordshire

55%

Northamptonshire

55%

Kent

55%

Nottinghamshire

54%

Aberdeenshire

54%

Hertfordshire

52%

East Sussex

52%

Surrey

51%

Dorset

51%

Hampshire

49%

Berkshire

49%

Buckinghamshire

49%

West Sussex

48%

Oxfordshire

46%

Source : PayPoint

* PayPoint commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,000 UK consumers, with a nationally-representative sample in July 2021

** Only counties where PayPoint’s network of 28,000 convenience stores covers more than 5 stores were included in the study

*** The cash reliance score combines store transaction data (the percentage of purchases made in cash) with regional attitudinal data (the percentage of people who consider themselves to be cash-reliant)

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05 August 2021

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