Cashless society ‘putting vulnerable people at risk of digital exclusion’

Research shows the elderly and those with mental health issues are most at risk of being excluded from society through the growth of eWallets and other cashless payment methods.

Joe Lepper | 14th Nov 19

More than eight million people in the UK are at risk of digital exclusion due to the increase in cashless payments.

The elderly, homeless and those with mental health issues are among the most likely to be reliant on using cash rather than digital payment methods, including eWallets, credit cards, bank transfers and other cashless payments

Latest analysis of Global Payment Trends has shown that 8.17 million people in the UK are at risk of digital exclusion through their reliance on cash.

It draws on latest estimates that found there are 1.3 million adults without bank accounts, 320,000 people living rough, 1.35 million people with health issues and 5.2 million households that rely on cash.

Between January 2018 and July 2019 the number of ATMs in the UK distributing cash dropped from 54,000 to 49,700, says the report.

It forecasts debit cards will replace cash as the leading payment method by the end of the year.

Fall in use of cash

In the UK the percentage of transactions paid for with cash has fallen from nine per cent in 2017 to seven per cent in 2018.

The advantage of being able to manage money digitally is particularly useful to those with mental health issues, according to a health charity.

“When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives,” said Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Institute.

“Ensuring that money advice is routinely offered to people using mental health services would increase recovery rates, as well as improving the financial wellbeing of the 1.5 million people currently dealing with this terrifying combination of problems.”