Payouts under the pension freedom regime have soared in the last quarter when £1.77bn was withdrawn from retirement pots, according to the latest Treasury figures.
In the months since April, 256,000 payments were made to 159,000 people, seemingly double the number processed in the previous two quarters and more than in the three months after the reforms were fully launched.
However, the figures are somewhat skewed as reporting was made compulsory only in April this year, while it was voluntary in the first year.
In Q2 last year, immediately after the freedoms were launched, 121,000 withdrawals were made worth a total of £1.56bn.
Rates slowed towards the end of the year and in the first three months of 2016 when just north of £800m was withdrawn in each quarter.
Overall, since the freedoms were introduced, 772,000 payments worth £6bn were made by providers, the Treasury said.
At the same time the government's free impartial at-retirement guidance service, Pension Wise, has so far had about 2.7 million visits to its website and 75,000 appointments.
Pension Wise, which was set up to ensure consumer have the information they need to make informed decisions at retirement, will be replaced by a new body in April 2018, the government has since said.
The Treasury said the figures showed pension freedom has been a success. The reforms, which were announced by then Chancellor George Osborne in his 2014 Budget speech, allowed all defined contribution savers unfettered access to their pots from age 55.
Further reforms allowing annuity holders to sell back their guaranteed income are due to be introduced in April next year.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury Simon Kirby said: "It's only right that people should have a choice over what they do with their money and today's figures show that pension freedoms continue to be a popular choice.
"Our pension reforms have already given hundreds of thousands of people access and responsibility over their hard-earned savings and we will continue to make sure that the pension freedoms work well for everyone."
However, providers said the success of the reforms was not proven in how popular withdrawals were but how the cash was utilised.
AJ Bell senior analyst Tom Selby said: "Early data from the regulator suggests the majority of people are using the freedoms sensibly rather than blowing their pension on luxury holidays and sports cars.
"However, policymakers must remain vigilant to the risk people withdraw too much too quickly. Ultimately the purpose of a pension is to provide an income throughout retirement, so any spike in cash-outs would be concerning."
Hargreaves Lansdown head of retirement policy Tom McPhail agreed: "It is important to track not just what people are doing but why they are doing it and what they have got left behind in terms of pension provisions for later years."
He added: "The data illustrates how popular this type of retirement income planning has become. It corresponds to a significant decline in annuity sales, indicating that for many people for now at least, drawing cash directly from your pension fund is the new normal."
McPhail voiced concern over people's failure to shop around at retirement, often choosing to stick with their existing pension provider instead.
"Many of these investors are using their existing pension provider simply because it is the most available solution, if they don't shop around they may miss out on better deals and services which are available elsewhere," he said.
The regulator had detected consumer fatigue with shopping around in a market study last year and proceeded to force the industry to trial annuity comparison tools to help guide them.
In July, it said the trials had been a success. They had produced dramatic results, pushing up shopping around levels from 13% to 40%, and the regulator said it was considering to mandate providers to use the tools.
The pension reforms also produced a number of unintended side effects, most notably a rise in scams targeted at pensioners and high exit penalties for those wanting to transfer out of schemes.
Although the government announced plans earlier this year to cap exit fees for savers, it stopped short of introducing tighter rules to prevent scam activity, continuing to rely solely on educational anti-scam campaigns.
For instance, AJ Bell said the government should legislate to ban cold-calling, one of the most common ways in which scammers approach their victims.
Selby said: "The spectre of scams also looms large, and these figures drive home just how significant an opportunity the reforms represent for criminals. The government must do all it can to protect savers, and a ban on cold calling for pensions should be introduced as part of a serious crackdown on fraudsters."
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