Cash still a strong part of Northern Ireland economy in 2022, new ATM data shows

The Link network is connected to around 1,800 ATMs in the north.
The Link network is connected to around 1,800 ATMs in the north.

THE Northern Ireland economy continues to be more cash dependent than any other region of the UK, new data from the interbank network Link suggests.

The Link network is connected to around 1,800 cash machines in the north.

Using its own data and official government population statistics, it estimated the average person in the north (aged over the age of 16) withdrew £2,226 during 2022.

That was 45 per cent higher than the UK average of £1,564.

Although the amount of cash withdrawn here increased by 10 per cent from 2021 (£2,070), the longer-term trend reflects a steady move away from hard currency.

Before the pandemic (2019), Link’s data suggests the average person here withdrew £2,931.

However, the number of ATMs in Northern Ireland decreased by 21 over that period.

It came in a period where banks reduced their physical network around the north, blaming the growing trend of online banking.

Link’s data also revealed a significant trend away from ATMs which charge for withdrawing cash.

The number of charging ATMs in the north has fallen by 18 per cent inside three years, from 374 to 306.

In that same period, the number of free-to-use cash machines increased by 47 to 1,498.

Scott Kennerley, director of financial and postal services at the Consumer Council said: “These figures continue to show the importance of access to cash for Northern Ireland consumers.

“We have seen a significant number of bank branch closures in Northern Ireland in recent years which will undoubtedly have affected consumers’ ability to access their money.

“Being able to access cash free of charge continues to be so important to many consumers and as these figures show, of particular importance to Northern Ireland consumers.”