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Cards overtake cash as contactless takes off

18 June 2018

Cards overtake cash as contactless takes offDebit cards have overtaken cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK.

The latest UK Payment Markets report from UK Finance reveals that UK consumers made 13.2 billion debit card payments at the end of 2017, compared to 13.1 billion cash payments.

The shift away from cash is being driven by new technology and changing consumer habits. The findings show that the number of contactless payments has doubled in a year, while cash payments are down 15% year-on-year.

In total, across both debit and credit cards, the number of contactless payments increased by 97% during 2017 to 5.6 billion. Almost two-thirds (63%) of people in the UK now use contactless payments; no age group or region falls below 50% usage.

The report says that around 3.4 million consumers almost never used cash at all. Despite this, cash is still the second most frequently used payment method and 2.2 million customers mainly used cash for their day-to-day shopping in 2017.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: "The choice of payment options available in the UK is allowing people to choose to pay the way that best suits them. But we're far from becoming a cash-free society and despite the UK transforming to an economy where cash is less important than it once was, it will remain a payment method that continues to be valued and preferred by many."

Mobile payments are also a key part of the changing payment landscape. Steve Newton, executive vice president, UK and Europe of Worldpay, said: "While cash has come to the end of its reign as payment currency king, it is mobile, not cards, that is set to seize the throne. Tap and go technology has paved the way for a mobile payments revolution."

Worldpay research has found that more than half of UK shoppers say they'd happily leave their wallet at home and pay for everything on their smartphone instead. "This number will only increase in the future, as consumers become more comfortable paying for goods on their smartphone," said Newton.

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