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British consumer group highlights protection of cash users in cashless society
Last Updated: 2019-02-13 09:34 | Xinhua
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At a time when people increasingly move away from cash towards digital payments, a British consumer group has pleaded for protection of cash users as their ability to pay is under threat with closing-down bank branches and disappearance of cash machines.

Though debit card payments eclipsed cash payments in 2017 in Britain, cash is still a necessity for 25 million people across the country, many of whom are small business owners, people living on tight budgets, with disabilities or in rural and isolated communities, according to a survey from Which?.

However, Britain's ATM network shrank at an unprecedented rate in the second half of 2018, with nearly 3,000 machines disappearing during six months, or almost 500 a month. Coupled with this trend, more than 3,300 bank branches have closed in the last four years, Which? has found.

The decline of cash machines can be much attributed to the planned reduction of a fee paid by the bank to the cash machine operator, producing a significant impact on the profit of the ATM operators and the number of machines they can provide, the consumer group said.

Which? has teamed up with the Federation of Small Businesses, British Retail Consortium and Association of Convenience Stores to call on the government to urgently appoint a regulator to protect access to cash by intervening to maintain the health of Britain's bank branch and ATM networks.

The group stressed people's freedom to pay for products and services with cash for as long as they need to. It also said cash can be a vital alternative when high profile IT failures at Visa and several major banks laid bare the fragility of electronic payment methods.

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