Edinburgh ATMs: Capital sees one of biggest falls in cash machine numbers in Scotland

All five Edinburgh constituencies in top 12 for ATM closures

Edinburgh has seen one of the biggest falls in the number of cash machines in the whole of Scotland.

A new study shows all five of the Capital’s Westminster constituencies are in the top 12 for the loss of automated teller machines (ATMs) with Midlothian at number 13. Altogether Edinburgh lost a total of 161 ATMs between 2018 and 2022. The study, which used House of Commons data, interprets the decline in ATMs as evidence of the move to a cashless society.

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Withdrawals from ATMs are said to be down 40 per cent compared to before the pandemic, and trade body UK Finance has estimated that cash will be used in just six per cent of transactions by 2031. But ATM provider Link has said ATM transactions in 2022 were up around five per cent on 2021 and many families, especially those on low incomes, are said to use cash to ease budgeting amid the cost of living crisis.

More than 160 ATMs have closed across Edinburgh in the past four years.

The study, by CMC Markets, found Aberdeen South and West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine were the two constituencies with the biggest percentage reduction in ATMs – 36 and 30.8 per cent respectively – with Edinburgh South West in third place, having seen the loss of 29.9 per cent of ATMs, which was 32 machines.

Edinburgh West was in sixth place, having lost 28.2 per cent or 31 machines; Edinburgh East was eighth with a loss of 27.6 per cent, meaning 37 machines; and Edinburgh South was ninth, losing 26.1 per cent of its ATMs – 18 machines. Edinburgh North and Leith came in at number 12, having lost 24 per cent, but that amounted to the closure of 43 machines – more than any other constituency in Scotland.

Midlothian, in 13th place, saw a 22.6 per cent drop in the number of ATMs over the four years with the loss of 19 machines; East Lothian was in 29th place, with a 17.9 per cent fall and the loss of 17 machines; Linlithgow & East Falkirk came in at number 34, recording a 17.3 per cent fall and 19 machines gone; and Livingston was 42nd with 15 per cent fall and the loss of 18 machines.

The study also compared the ATM statistics with population figures to find the number of ATMs per 10,000 people across each parliamentary constituency. Edinburgh South had the fewest at 5.5 per 10,000 residents; Edinburgh South West was next with seven; Edinburgh West had 7.8; Edinburgh East 8.8; and Edinburgh North and Leith had the most with 11.7 per 10,000 residents. Beyond the Capital, Midlothian has 5.8 ATMs were 10,000 people; East Lothian had 7.2; Livingston 8.5; and Linlithgow and East Falkirk 9.3.

The decline in the number of ATMs is seen as evidence of the growth of the cashless society.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers were reminded that using digital payment options over cash would allow them to pay for goods and services in a safer manner. Many found this to be more convenient than withdrawing cash, and it appears to have only accelerated the already existing shift towards digital banking. By analysing the rate at which ATMs have closed over the past four years, we were able to see which areas are likely to go cashless first, as well as the areas with the easiest access to cash machines.

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“With older generations being more reliant on cash machines, increasing closures of ATMs may exacerbate the digital divide unless banks continue with measures that aim to improve digital literacy.”