Contactless cards replacing cash on Britain’s high streets
Use of contactless technology more than trebles in 2014 with cash accounting for less than one in every four pounds of retail spending
By James Titcomb: The Telegraph: 06 Feb 2015
Cash is becoming an increasingly rare sight on Britain’s high streets, as the use of contactless cards skyrockets.
Spending with the “tap and go” cards, which allow shoppers to pay by swiping their debit or credit cards on a terminal, more than trebled last year to reach £2.3bn
2014 is expected to have been the year in which consumers used cash for less than half of total transactions.
Figures from the UK Cards Association shows that cards already accounted for three quarters of all retail spending by value in November, while the British Retail Consortium said last year that the use of cash was at an all-time low, accounting for just over 50pc of transactions in 2013.
Cards have steadily been replacing cash, as Britons do more shopping online and become more familiar with using debit and credit cards on the high street.
However, the rise of contactless technology looks likely to hasten the demise of notes and coins on the high street. Over 319m contactless transactions were made in 2014 – 10 every second – compared to 100m the year before.
A large part of this was down to Transport for London introducing contactless card technology last year. TfL said that 41m journeys had been made using contactless technology since it launched in September.
Retailers say contactless technology means shorter queues and more convenience for customers, and have been installing terminals around the country.
“Contactless has now firmly stepped into the mainstream. With usage soaring every month last year, we’ve seen people flocking to contactless payments as they switch away from cash,” said Richard Koch, the UK Cards Association’s head of policy.
There are now 58m contactless cards in the UK, a 52pc rise on a year ago and almost one for every person in the country.
According to Barclaycard, a quarter of all its new cards are contactless-enabled. The average age of a contactless card user is 43, while men are far more likely to use the technology, accounting for 63pc of Barclaycard’s contactless users.
Use of cards has grown by around 60pc in the last five years, with most of the growth coming from debit cards.
Barclaycard’s head of contactless, Tami Hargreaves, said contactless payments would become “habitual” this year.
“Paying contactlessly is not only quicker, but it’s easier, safer and more secure,” she said. “We expect contactless payments to continue to prosper in 2015 as ‘tap and go’ becomes a habitual way of paying.”