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Cash falls out of favour as online card payments rise

13 July 2017 - 14:43 by Simon Crisp

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Debit and credit cards have become dominant in the UK for the first time this year, with the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium indicating that cash is no longer the most popular way to make payments.

The Daily Mail reports that the study found a number of motivating factors behind this sea change, with the rise in safe shopping online being a key catalyst for the payment card takeover.

It is not just e-commerce that is driving the death of cash, as contactless technology embedded in modern credit and debit cards has streamlined the checkout process at high street outlets, causing consumers to ditch notes and coins altogether in some cases.

Contactless cards are an ideal replacement for cash since they tend to be used for small purchases. And while 42.3 per cent of all transactions were still carried out with cash last year, it seems that the gradual slide into obscurity is unavoidable at this point.

Forty two point six billion debit card payments and 2.2 billion credit card payments gave these cards a combined 53 per cent share of the market as a whole. Now contactless tech is having another impact, driving down the average value of payment card transactions.

The retail market enjoyed a 3.5 per cent rise in sales over the course of 2016, with strong growth in safe shopping online and a popularity of m-commerce helping to fuel further increases.

Report spokesperson, Andrew Cregan, explained that retailers were processing more payment card purchases than ever before as consumers have rushed to embrace this type of transaction both online and off.

Interestingly, earlier predictions from analysts suggested that cash could hold onto its crown until at least 2021, but the pace of change has been so rapid that even these forecasts were proven incorrect.