LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Britain's government said on
Thursday it wanted to make it easier for shoppers to withdraw
cash from local shops using a bank card, to mitigate a fall in
the number of cash machines.
Cash usage for day-to-day transactions has fallen steeply in
Britain in recent years, and the trend has accelerated since the
start of the coronavirus pandemic, with cash-machine withdrawals
now down by a third compared with a year ago.
Reduced usage makes it less viable to operate the machines,
which usually allow Britons to withdraw money from their bank
accounts with no extra charge, in exchange for a small payment
from the bank.
A minority of Britons - disproportionately the elderly or
those on low incomes - still rely very heavily on cash, and the
government said in March it wanted to ensure it remained easy to
The finance ministry said it would consult on changing rules
to allow people to use their bank card to withdraw cash at a
shop till, without needing to make an additional purchase as at
"When local shops accept and dispense cash, it is recycled
through local communities and there is less need to transport
and distribute notes and coins via cash centres, which reduces
the associated costs," the ministry said.
British shoppers withdrew 3.8 billion pounds ($4.95
billion)from shops in 2019, compared with 116.4 billion pounds
dispensed by the country's biggest network of cash machines.
The government also said it would consider giving the
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) overall responsibility for
ensuring a well-functioning cash system.
Current responsibilities are split between the FCA, the Bank
of England, the finance ministry and the Payment Systems
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Stephen Addison)