Debit Card Payments Overtake Cash For The First Time

Kate Nicholls, CEO of the ALMR.

Debit card payments overtook cash for the first time last year as more and more consumers turn to contactless payments for everyday purchases.

A total of 13.2 billion debit card payments were made at the end of last year, an 15 per cent increase on the previous year, compared with 13.1 billion cash payments, according to trade body UK finance.

The figures reflect the fact that now almost two third of the UK population are using contactless as their preferred method to pay for goods, as better access to card payments and new technology offer choice and convenience to customers.

Steve Newton, executive vice president, UK and Europe of Worldpay, said the UK has passed “a major milestone on its journey to a more digital future”, adding that “the popularity of contactless has been a major factor driving this growth, making cards the quick and convenient choice for many UK shoppers”.

Newton added “Tap-and-go technology has paved the way for a mobile payments revolution. Already 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.

UK hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said “card payments for even the smallest of transactions are ubiquitous and customers expect to be able to pay with flexibility no matter where they are. This means that pubs need to be able to accept a range of payment methods or risk alienating customers who are used to the convenience of cashless transactions. Gaming machine income for pubs is decreasing almost certainly linked to the decreasing cash transactions in pubs and the fact that fewer customers carry cash with them. For this reason UK hospitality has been lobbying the government for contactless payments on category C and D machines to offset this drop in play and secure a vital revenue stream for pubs”