Probe launched into how ‘cashless society’ is affecting businesses
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A review has been commissioned into how the shift from cash to digital payments is affecting people and small businesses.
The investigation is being funded by cash machine network Link, which has recently been at the centre of a row about the future of ATMs.
It will be led by former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service Natalie Ceeney.
Link said the Access to Cash Review, which will spend the next six months gathering information, will be independent and will bring together bodies such as Age UK and Fairer Finance as well as industry experts to examine people's future needs across the UK.
Link said anyone with an interest in cash – people, consumer groups, community representatives, small businesses and industry – will be able to contribute through workshops and a call for evidence.
The review will look at the impact of new technologies over the next five to 15 years and what the future infrastructure will need to look like to support consumers' needs.
It will include recommendations on how the UK should best respond to the 'challenges and the opportunities' of people's evolving relationships with cash and payments over the next 15 years. The final report will be published in the first half of next year.
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Ms Ceeney said: 'The rise of contactless and digital payments has changed the relationship between cash and consumers.
'Many people in the UK have made a shift to paying for most things digitally, but at the same time, there are between two to three million people across the UK who are entirely reliant on cash.
'Over the next decade and beyond, we will see significant changes driven by technology, and we need to ensure that we consider now how these will affect different segments of society, and plan so that no-one is left behind.
'The Access to Cash Review's main objective is to identify what is needed by way of an effective and inclusive cash access service that meets the needs of all consumers, regardless of their personal circumstances.'
The Link scheme is a national network connecting ATMs.
A row previously broke out over the future funding of ATMs, sparking fears that more people could struggle to access cash at a time when many bank branches are also closing.