As the UK swiftly accelerates towards becoming a cash-free nation, new data reveals that ATMs in Britain are disappearing at a rate of 488 per month, the Telegraph reports.

According to Link, a shared interbank running the cash machine network in the UK, nearly 500 ATMs were disposed of every four weeks during the period stretching from June to December 2018. Roughly half of the cash machines – 254 to be precise – were free-of-charge machines. 

Consumer group Which? cautioned that the cashless trend could leave communities almost completely cut off from cash, therefore deprived of a means to pay for local goods and services, noting in particular recent bank outages including TSB’s IT meltdown, which left consumers unable to reach their funds.

Which? representative Jenni Allen said: “We have serious concerns that the alarming rate of cashpoint and bank branch closures risks leaving people facing an uphill battle to access the cash they rely on.

“Cash is also a vital backup as fallible digital payments grow in popularity – so the Government must appoint a regulator to oversee these changes and ensure no one is excluded and left struggling to go about their daily lives.”

Nonetheless, official data from Link revealed that the rate at which cash machines are closing down is on the rise. Almost 4,700 ATMs were shut down during 2018, a significant rise from the 1,400 recorded during the previous year. 

The research from the cash machine network company also showed that ATM withdrawals in some parts of the country fell drastically between 2017-2018, with London down by 8.5% and the South East by 7.7%.

In other parts of Britain where cash may still dominate, cash machine withdrawals were still on the decline, with the North West, Scotland and Wales down by 3.1% and Northern Ireland by 2.1%.