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Coronavirus: Half of UK shoppers have not used cash since lockdown

File photo dated 14/09/17 of a man withdrawing money from an ATM. The coronavirus pandemic should give banks a "kick up the bum" to invest in cutting-edge technology to ensure vital access to cash in a post-Covid-19 world, according to one of the world's largest cash machine makers.
Cash use has fallen faster during the pandemic. Photo: PA

Half of UK customers say they have used no cash since Britain went into lockdown, a survey suggests in the latest sign the coronavirus is accelerating the decline of cash.

Around 40% of more than 2,000 adults polled nationwide last month said they plan to continue avoiding cash in shops, restaurants or bars because of health concerns.

The survey, by in-store payment app provider Ubamarket and shared exclusively with Yahoo Finance UK, also shows around a third of customers report feeling anxious at shop self-checkouts because of concerns over hygiene and nearby customers.

The pandemic has seen many firms stop allowing customers to pay in cash, as well as consumers shunning banknotes and coins.


READ MORE: UK cash usage declining faster than other major European economies

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned in March that banknotes could be spreading the virus. It advised people to use contactless payments.

The Bank of England has also noted that banknotes like other surfaces “can carry bacteria or viruses,” and encouraged frequent hand washing. Meanwhile banks in China and Korea began disinfecting and isolating used banknotes earlier this year.

A study by professional services firm Accenture in June suggested cash use was declining faster in Britain than other major European economies. It urged banks to support customers reliant on cash, estimated by cash machine firm Link at around a fifth of the population.

Usage is predicted to decline by almost 40% this year. Data from banking body UK Finance showed cash payments were declining before the virus hit, down 15% last year.

READ MORE: UK households take on more debts after months of repayments

“The research clearly shows that the coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed the way in which British consumers want to purchase their goods and enjoy the experience of dining or drinking in bars, pubs and restaurants,” said Will Broome, CEO of Ubamarket.

Ubamarket, which runs an app providing scan-as-you-shop and other technology for retailers, hopes to capitalise on consumers’ changing attitudes to cash. It launched a hospitality sister product called Ubarmarket in June, allowing remote ordering at bars, pubs and restaurants.