The nation’s ATM network must be retained to meet the demand for cash as a form of payment, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has told the Access to Cash Review.

The independent review, which is funded by Link and chaired by the former head of the Financial Ombudsman Service Natalie Ceeney, is examining the cash access requirements for consumers and businesses over the next five to fifteen years.

It comes as cash usage continues to decline, and concerns about the sustainability of the supporting cash infrastructure grow.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Convenience retailers are increasingly the only local source of cash as bank branches close, taking their ATMs away from the communities that they used to serve.

“Our sector provides secure access to cash through cashback and Post Office services as supplements to national cash access through ATMs, but these cannot fully replace a strong national ATM network,” he added.

Post Office branches cannot supply cash outside branch opening hours, or cover high streets and shopping parades without a branch, while a switch to cashback services could increase the threat of robberies and incur high insurance premiums through more cash being held on the retailer premises, the ACS added.

While cash use is likely to continue to decline over the next 15 years, it is still currently the dominant form of payment in convenience stores with 76% of customers paying by cash, according to the ACS.