At least 30.6 million Brits could be at risk of being left vulnerable in society due to an inability to use digital payment methods amidst a significant drop in cash use, new data reveals.
Global Payment Trends collates official data from payment reports and demographic statistics to reveal the potential societal repercussions of digital exclusivity, whereby coins, banknotes and cheques are replaced by eWallets, credit transfers and debit cards.
Analysis has revealed that if this reduced access to cash continues, 30.6 vulnerable Brits would suffer due to their dependence on physical payment methods – including the 17.032 million people identified by Mind as struggling with their mental health on a daily basis.
Also at risk in the UK are the 280,000 Brits that are estimated to be homeless, the 11.9 million residents aged 65 and over that may struggle to adapt to digital services due to a generational divide, and the 1.3 million people that are currently unbanked.
Data reveals that cash use fell by 71% across the UK based on e-commerce transactions, while digital/mobile wallets are now the top online checkout method. This noticeable decline in cash use appears to have been accelerated during the pandemic given the closure of brick-and-mortar stores.
This paired with the World Health Organization’s earlier concerns that the virus could be transmitted via banknotes could leave millions of people without vital access to cash.
According to Mind, more than half of the 12 million people currently living with severe mental health problems in the UK have difficulties carrying out essential admin tasks via the phone, while more than one in five people with mental issues struggle to deal with crucial services.
It’s never been more important for government bodies to ensure adequate provisions are in place to support vulnerable members of society – especially given that the incidence of poor mental health across the UK is suspected to have increased during the pandemic.
Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Institute, said: “When you’re struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives.
“Ensuring that money advice is routinely offered to people using mental health services would increase recovery rates, as well as improving the financial wellbeing of the millions of people currently dealing with this terrifying combination of problems.”