Contactless payments more popular than cash in the UK

22nd June 2018

The number of contactless payments made using debit and credit cards across the UK rose by 97% to 5.6 billion in 2017, according to the latest UK Payment Markets report from UK Finance.

The continued move towards contactless payments by consumers has had a knock-on effect on cash payments, which were reportedly down 15% year-on-year in 2017.

Last year, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) confirmed that card transactions had overtaken cash as the leading payment method for the first time. Furthermore, this latest report suggests 3.4 million consumers now very rarely use cash at all to pay for goods and services.

In 2017, almost one-in-ten of the 5.4 million smaller firms operating in the UK did not accept card payments whatsoever, risking missing out on more than £23,000 of profit annually. B2B marketplace, Expert Market also warned that one-in-four consumers actively avoided shopping with firms that maintained a cash-only policy.

The figures from the new UK Payment Markets report state that the majority of each age group and UK region now use contactless payments.

Stephen Jones, Chief Executive, UK Finance, said that despite contactless payments now being part of the consumer consciousness, cash remained the second most popular payment method.

“The choice of payment options available in the UK is allowing people to choose to pay the way that best suits them,” said Jones.

“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.”

Nevertheless, small businesses should not ignore the changing payment landscape, with tap-and-go technology also paving the way for a “mobile payments revolution”, according to Steve Newton, Executive Vice President of UK and Europe at Worldpay.

Recent Worldpay research discovered over half of UK consumers would be content to leave their wallets at home and pay for everything using their smartphones instead.

“This number will only increase in the future, as consumers become more comfortable paying for goods on their smartphone,” added Newton.

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