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Debit cards overpower cash as payment method in UK

Monday 13 August 2018 | 10:53 AM CET

Debit cards have overtaken cash as the most frequently used payment method in the UK, according to UK Finance.

At the end of 2017, UK consumers had made 13.2 billion debit card payments compared to 13.1 billion cash payments.

The popularity of contactless payments is key driver of debit card growth. The number of contactless payments increased by 97% during 2017 to 5.6 billion across both debit and credit cards. Almost two thirds (63%) of people in the UK now use contactless payments, and no age group or region falls below 50% usage.

Despite the 15% fall in cash payments, cash still accounts for just over one third (34%) of all UK payments. It remains second only to debit cards. Around 2.2 million consumers mainly used cash to pay in 2017. These people were not necessarily unwilling or unable to use other methods of payment. Nine out of ten of them had a debit card they could use if they chose. The majority also used other payment methods to settle regular bills.

The number of cash payments is expected to fall over the next ten years, as consumers turn to alternative payment methods. There are expected to be 6.4 billion cash payments in 2027, accounting for 16% of all payments.

Stephen Jones, chief executive at UK Finance, said that we are 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.

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