NEW STUDY: Can Cash Keep Its £70 Billion British Crown?

When it comes to payment usage in the U.K., cash is as close to British royalty as payments get — and not just because Queen Elizabeth appears on the country’s banknotes. Despite new innovations in payment technology, physical currency remains atop the throne in Britain.

And, according to research inside the new PYMNTS Global Cash Index™ United Kingdom Analysis, a Cardtronics collaboration, its grip on the crown is only getting stronger. Total banknotes in circulation surged in 2016, growing by 10 percent to a total of $70 billion — the fastest growth in a decade, according to the Bank of England (BoE).

Meanwhile, cash accounts for more than 42 percent of retail purchases in the U.K.

PYMNTS research reveals that cash is often used as a budgeting tool by British consumers and, according to Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier and director of banknotes, its lack of fees and easy accessibility has made it popular among average spenders.

Some key takeaways from the new Global Cash Index™ U.K. Analysis:

  • Total cash use in the U.K. surged to £218.3 billion in 2016 representing 11.3 percent of the GDP.
  • With banks shuttering, consumers are increasingly relying on ATMs for accessing cash. The U.K. has 108 ATMs and 30 bank branches per 100,000 people.
  • Cash usage may be growing, but overall share of cash is declining. Between 2010 and 2016, cash share declined by roughly 4 percent even as overall usage increased.

How cash vies to stay on top

Cash is clearly holding its ground in the U.K. according to PYMNTS research, and reports from one of the country’s largest banks tells the same tale.

Despite more competition from alternate payment forms, in an interview for the Global Cash Index United Kingdom Analysis’ feature story, Cleland said cash still rules in the U.K. 

“At the Bank of England, we see that there’s strong demand for cash and expect that to go into the future,” she said.

To read the story and check out the complete U.K. analysis, download the report.

To download the Global Cash Index™ U.K. Analysis, please click below.


About the Index

The Global Cash Index™, a Cardtronics collaboration, focuses on the use of cash for making payments and as a payment method that equally plays a role with cards, checks, direct debit and other methods of settling up between consumers and businesses. Unlike most reported estimates of cash, our proprietary data analysis focuses on the use of cash for making payments rather than hoarding.



The PYMNTS Cross-Border Merchant Friction Index analyzes the key friction points experienced by consumers browsing, shopping and paying for purchases on international eCommerce sites. PYMNTS examined the checkout processes of 266 B2B and B2C eCommerce sites across 12 industries and operating from locations across Europe and the United States to provide a comprehensive overview of their checkout offerings.