The days of handing over cash could be numbered as the economy is in a shift to digitisation, warn campaigners.
New laws are needed to protect the pound in the pocket, says lobby group Access to Cash Review.
And they are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take urgent action to protect spending money in his Budget 2020 on March 11.
The group is warning Britain is hurtling towards a cashless society that is leaving many people who are not confident in spending on a smartphone, tablet or other gadget.
The Financial Inclusion Commission found around 2 million people in Britain are ‘unbanked’ and can only pay important day-to-day shopping and utility bills with notes and coins.
But the importance of hard cash is diminishing with the advent of online payments and cryptocurrency.
In 2018, cash was used to make around 11 billion payments, but this will plunge to around 3.8 billion transactions by 2028.
At the same time, digital payments will increase in number to account for around 90% of all spending.
Last year, around £7 billion a month was spent on cashless card payments in shops, pubs, cafes and other retailers as well as online.
“The UK is fast becoming a cashless society – without knowing what this really means for consumers or for the UK economy,” said Natalie Ceeney , of Access to Cash Review.
“With ATM numbers declining, cash use dropping, and more and more shops not accepting cash, our fear is that the UK will fast go cashless, leaving millions of people behind.”
Free cash machines
The campaigners want the Chancellor to legislate to protect cash.
A Treasury spokesman said: “Technology has transformed banking for millions of people, but we know that many still rely on cash.
“That’s why we’ve invested £2 billion to ensure everyday banking services are available at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK.
“We’re also working closely with industry and regulators to ensure everyone who needs cash can access it.”
Bank and building society trade body UK Finance explained the industry recognised the need for access to cash, especially in remote areas, which was why arrangements between banks will keep free cash machines on every high street.