Even before the pandemic, the United Kingdom witnessed rapid adoption of digital payments as a more convenient way to manage money, especially among tech-savvy consumers. However, the COVID-19 speeded up the digitalization of the entire payments industry, with millions of Britons choosing online payments over cash and ATMs amid the lockdown.
According to data presented by Buy Shares, the number of ATMs in the United Kingdom plunged by almost 6,000 in a year, falling to 55,000 in December 2020.
Transaction Value Plunged by 30% Amid the Pandemic
The social distancing rules and the COVID-19 lockdown led to a huge number of closed ATMs in the first quarter of 2020. In January, there were around 60,500 ATMs in the United Kingdom, revealed the UK’s Cash Machine Network (LINK) report. In the next three months, this figure dropped to 53,100.
Statistics indicate a large number of ATMs remained shut down even after the authorities lifted off restrictions. In September 2020, Britons could use around 55,600 cash machines across the country. However, the November lockdowns caused ATM numbers to fall once again and land at 54,754 in December.
Besides a considerable drop in the number of ATMs, LINK transaction volume and value also plunged amid the coronavirus outbreak. In January 2020, Britons withdrew £8.18bn in a total of 185 million transactions. By the end of April, the transaction value dropped by 46% to £4.39bn while the number of transactions halved to 91 million.
The ATM use increased through the early summer as the authorities lifted off many restrictions. Statistics show the number of transactions peaked at 141 million in August while total transaction value hit £7.1bn that month.
The tightening of restrictions in October and November again caused a massive drop in ATM use, although not as much as the first lockdown. Statistics show Britons withdrew just over £6bn in 188 million transactions in November, a 43% plunge in a year. Although these figures rose to £7bn and 129 million in December, it still represents a 34% year-over-year drop. Overall, 2020 saw LINK volumes fall by 37% and transaction values by 30% year-over-year.
Use of Cash Drops, Digital Payments Rise
As the use of cash continues to drop amid the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, digital payments in the United Kingdom are set to reach a new record.
According to a Statista survey, the United Kingdom, as the leading digital payments market in Europe, is expected to hit $271.4bn value in 2021, almost a 25% increase in a year. Statistics show cashless payments in the UK jumped by 40% amid the COVID-19 outbreak. By 2025, their transaction value is forecast to jump by another 60% to $439bn.
As the largest segment of the market, digital commerce is expected to reach $172.8bn transaction value in 2021 and continue rising to $219.2bn in 2025.
Mobile POS payments are forecast to witness a 123% increase in this period, with their transaction value jumping from $98.5bn in 2021 to $219.9bn in 2025.