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Will the UK be cashless in 2026?





Merchant Machine has taken an in-depth look at payment methods of different countries around the world to find the nations where physical cash still takes precedence despite the increasing popularity of digital payment wallets such as Apple Pay and Paypal. The study also looks into the UK’s changing habits with cash and predicts when the United Kingdom can expect to be a completely cashless society.

The top 10 countries most reliant on cash

With over 70% of payments made in cash, Romania has been revealed as the country most reliant on physical cash. Nearly half (42%) of the Eastern European country population is unbanked showing that many of the citizens still cling to notes and coins.

In Norway, on the other hand, only 3% of transactions are made in cash. Whilst there are only 31.6 ATMs per 1000 adults, the research found that 100% of the population own a bank account.

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.










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