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Plastic to overtake cash as means of payment

UK consumers are for the first time likely to spend more this year using credit and debit cards than with cash.

According to the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS), payment with plastic by individuals and businesses is likely to reach £269 billion in 2004, compared to £268 billion of cash payments. In 2005 it is expected that personal plastic card usage alone will overtake cash payments.

Debit cards are leading the growth, accounting for 64.9% of plastic card transactions in 2003.


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APACS expects the percentage of cash transactions to decline gradually over the next ten years, although the number of cheques will probably decrease much faster, from 2.3 billion in 2003 to 1.3 billion in 2013.

So, there’s no need to throw away the collecting tins just yet. On the other hand, it would make sense to be able to accept donations by plastic card in all an organisation’s fundraising activities, whether public events, online, or face-to-face.

On the other hand, the growth in using credit cards might have a direct impact on fundraising, given the issue of ever-increasing consumer debt. Cathy Pharoah, director of research at Charities Aid Foundation, told Third Sector this week: “with mounting consumer debt, fundraisers may find they have to work harder to maintain their current income.”