UK leads COVID-19 cash decline

New research from Accenture shows that UK cash usage is declining the fastest of any of Europe’s major economies, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the use of digital payments.

a man and a woman looking at a bag

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Cash usage is fastest declining the UK compared with the rest of Europe during coronavirus, according to research from Accenture.

UK cash usage has declined by almost 40 per cent from last year owing to the COVID-19 crisis prompting an accelerating use of digital payments. This compares to the European average of 30 per cent. 

Of course, UK cash usage was already in decline, however, but coronavirus is accelerating the trend. The COVID-19 pandemic has - owing to the lockdown as well as fear over how the virus is transmitted - caused major disruption to the way people pay. As cash usage continues to decline, banks and merchants will see accelerated use of digital payments, prompting a shift in their payment revenues.

Sulabh Agarwal, Global Payments Lead, Accenture, said: “While the decline of cash in the UK isn’t new, there’s little doubt that lockdown and social distancing measures have pushed consumers who typically rely on cash into digital payments". 

“Physical checkout is now considered a risk. Use of digital wallets – such as Apple and Google Pay – are likely to accelerate as a result of this crisis, as could checkout-less store models such as Amazon Go. Both of which negate the need for cash.

 “This pace of change comes with a warning – banks must reach unbanked or unserved customers who still rely heavily on cash.”

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