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Nationwide records jump in ATM withdrawals as people use cash for budgeting

ATM withdrawals jumped by nearly a fifth last year compared with 2021, marking the first time in 13 years that cash use has increased, according to Britain’s biggest building society.

Nationwide Building Society, which used its own data for the findings, suggested they reflect households’ use of physical money to help them budget during the cost-of-living crisis.

The society said more than 30.2 million cash withdrawals were made from Nationwide ATMs last year, marking an increase of 19% compared with 2021.

It said that, in recent years, the number of cash withdrawals had been steadily declining, with a particularly sharp drop seen at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank branch closures have sparked concerns about people’s ability to continue to access cash.

Various industry initiatives are under way and the Government has said it will legislate to protect the future of cash.

Nationwide has pledged not to leave any town or city in which it is based without a branch until at least 2024.

Otto Benz, director of payments at Nationwide Building Society, said: “For the first time in years we are seeing a natural rise in cash withdrawals as people return to using cash to help avoid getting into debt from the rising cost of living.

“ATMs play a vital role in society, enabling people to easily access cash.

“However, over the years, they have offered greater capability for people to manage their money, whether that’s checking their balance or paying a household bill.

“Our data shows people are clearly taking advantage of this enhanced technology as we are increasingly putting money away as well as taking it out.

“Far from the end for cash, it shows that the future of money management is constantly evolving. Taking advantage of the additional services that ATMs provide can be a speedy and convenient experience.”

Nationwide said more than 28.7 million ATM transactions made last year were for services other than withdrawing cash, such as printing mini-statements, paying bills, changing PINs and paying in cash and cheques.