Only 26% of Brits want a cashless society

Saleha Riaz
·3 min read
The increasing decline of high street bank branches and ATMs has made the possibility of a cashless society in the next few years 'more likely than ever before,' a new report said. Photo: Getty
The increasing decline of high street bank branches and ATMs has made the possibility of a cashless society in the next few years 'more likely than ever before,' a new report said. Photo: Getty

Even though less Britons are using cash as a method of payment due to the risks it poses amid the pandemic, only 26% of them actually want a cashless society, new data revealed.

A report by Money Transfers found that the UK came in 14th place in ranking of countries in favour of a cashless society.

This is even as 50% said they paid in cash less often since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The argument for a cashless society has been around for a while, but the rapid rise of the coronavirus crisis has intensified the debate again amid concerns about banknotes and coins transmitting the virus,” the report noted.

It added that the increasing decline of high street bank branches and ATMs has made the possibility of a cashless society in the next few years "more likely than ever before."

The data revealed that India is the country in which most people are in favour of going cashless: an “overwhelming” 79%.

The question respondents from each respective country were asked was: “Do you think it would be a positive or negative if your country became cashless, meaning only electronic forms of money will be accepted?”

In second position was Malaysia (65%) while the UAE and Indonesia came in joint third place (63%).

Vietnam (60%) and Singapore (56%) were in fourth and fifth position.

The US came in joint 15th place with Sweden, below the UK, with only 24% of citizens supporting a cashless society.

READ MORE: UK government increases contactless payment limit to £100

And in France, only 18% would welcome their country being entirely dependent on electronic forms of payment.

A total of 25,823 individuals were surveyed for the research, 1,734 from the UK.

Electronic forms of money refer to debit cards, credit cards, Google pay, Apple pay and other forms of electronic payment.

A recent study has shown that 95% of banknotes are covered in harmful bacteria that can cause a variety of serious illnesses, including MRSA, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and even anthrax.

Cash is known to be covered in germs and bacteria that can lead to the spread of disease. The most common bacteria that were found on banknotes was Saccharomyces cerevisiae, found on 65% of the notes examined.

However, a Bank of England study showed that the risk of catching coronavirus from banknotes is low.

READ MORE: 'Over a third' of UK consumers blocked from paying with cash during pandemic

Last month, a Which? survey showed that some 34% of consumers in the UK have been blocked from paying for goods with cash during the pandemic.

Jenny Ross, Which? money editor, said: “We have repeatedly warned about the consequences that coronavirus will have on what was an already fragile cash system, but nowhere near enough action has been taken by the government or the regulator to understand the scale of this issue.

“The government, which is still yet to introduce legislation to protect cash it promised almost a year ago, must urgently make the FCA responsible for tracking cash acceptance levels. Failure to do so will see the cash network crumble and leave millions of people abandoned.”

Meanwhile, contactless commercial credit card payments leapt by almost 24% in last year, according to data from the UK subsidiary of HSBC (HSBA.L).

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