Nearly half (48%) of people expect to see a cashless society in their lifetime, a survey has found.

One in six (15%) people said they never carry cash on their person, a figure which is more than triple the 4% of people who said this in 2019.

The proportion of people expecting to see the UK go cashless in their lifetime has increased from just over two-fifths (41%), when similar research was carried out in 2019, cash access and ATM network Link said.

Seven in 10 (71%) people surveyed still have some level of everyday reliance on cash and said they had used cash in the previous two weeks.

Link data shows that UK consumers are still withdrawing £209 million a day from cash machines. However, this is around a third, or £100 million, less than in 2019.

Nearly half (48%) of people said they would find a cashless society problematic.

In 2023, legislation was passed as part of the Financial Services and Markets Act, to protect access to cash.

Consumer group Which? said the number of UK bank branches to shut their doors in the past nine years had reached the 6,000 milestone on Friday last week.

There are various initiatives to help plug gaps in the cash access network, as bank branches close.

The 50th banking hub was recently opened. Banking hubs allow banks to share facilities. They have a counter service operated by the Post Office, allowing customers to conduct routine banking transactions.

The Post Office also recently reported that cash transactions at its branches totalled a record £3.48 billion in April. The Post Office has an agreement with many banks, allowing their customers to carry out everyday banking over its counters.

John Howells, CEO of Link said: “Although the UK is on the way to becoming a low cash country, we now have legislation that will help Link maintain a national network of free ATMs and banking hubs and this will ensure that anyone needing to access cash can do so.

“But it’s no use having cash if the best goods and services are only available online and this is becoming a real problem for millions of cash-reliant consumers. The focus now needs to be on access to digital.”

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Review, said: “Despite a massive growth in digital payments over the past five years, there are still millions of people who depend on cash, and half of the UK population concerned about the prospect of a cashless society.

“People need cash for a wide range of reasons, and the barriers to using digital payments are very real.”

She added: “We are certainly not ready to become a cashless society.”

Lord Holmes of Richmond, vice chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on FinTech said: “We are clearly heading towards a digital future and while some of the benefits will be transformational to society and the economy, there is a clear and present risk that we are moving forward without a clear plan to bring everyone on that journey.

“There are already real-life examples where the shift to digital is penalising those who can’t use tech at the moment. This should be an opportunity to bring everyone forward and we cannot afford to waste it.”

He added: “Financial inclusion and digital inclusion are so inextricably linked. We need to enable both.”

A spokesperson for UK Finance said: “While many people choose to pay using card, there are still plenty of people who prefer to use cash.

“The number of cash payments has decreased over the last decade and we expect cash usage to continue to fall, however, the finance industry is committed to ensuring access to cash for those who want to use it. Firms also have support and guidance available for anyone who needs help with using digital banking services.”

More than 2,200 people across the UK were surveyed by YouGov in April.