UK could see cards overtaking cash sooner than expected

The rising use of contactless payments in the UK could see the country becoming cashless much sooner than previously thought. 

Research by card association Payments UK has revealed that debit card use increased by 14 per cent last year, with 11.6 billion total uses throughout 2016. 

By the end of this year however, this number could rise to to 13.4 billion which would see debit cards surpass cash for the first time as paper money is expected to be used for 13.3 billion payments during the same time period. 

In 2016, the number of contactless payments rose by more than double to 2.9 million and analysts predict that a quarter of all payments will be made this way within 10 years.  Seven per cent of all the payments made last year were pin-free transactions with cash being used 15.4 billion times by consumers.    

However Adrian Buckle, Payments UK chief economist, downplayed the notion that we would soon be living in a cashless society, saying:   

“This is a significant shift but it's vital to note that even in the face of this change, we believe any claims the UK will soon become a cashless society are wide of the mark.  

"People will always want to choose the payment methods that best suit them, and cash will remain a frequently used payment method for the foreseeable future.  In 10 years' time, we will still be using cash for one in five payments in the UK, even as mobile payments and other innovations provide ever greater choice about how to pay.” 

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