UK consumers used their debit cards more than cash for the first time last year, according to figures from UK Finance.
The latest UK Payment Markets report shows that UK consumers made 13.2 billion debit card payments in 2017, overtaking cash payments (13.1 billion), with these falling 15% year-on-year.
The popularity of contactless payments among UK consumers is a key driver of debit card growth, according to UK Finance with nearly 119 million contactless cards in circulation by the end of 2017. In total, across both debit and credit cards, the number of contactless payments increased by 97% during 2017 to 5.6 billion. Almost two thirds (63%) of people in the UK now use contactless payments, and no age group or region falls below 50% usage.
Around 3.4 million consumers almost never used cash at all last year. However, cash is still the second most frequently used payment method, just behind debit cards, accounting for just over one-third (34%) of all payments in 2017. Around 2.2 million customers mainly used cash for their day-to-day shopping in 2017, although nine out of ten of them had a debit card they could use if they chose, and the majority used other payment methods to pay their regular bills.
In total, there were 38.8 billion payments made in the UK in 2017, with 89% of these made by individual customers. According to UK Finance, over the next decade debit card payment volumes are forecast to grow by more than any other payment method, increasing by 49% to 19.7 billion payments in 2027. This, it says, will be driven by the continuing rise of contactless payments, the ongoing growth of online shopping and ever-increasing levels of card acceptance amongst businesses of all sizes, but particularly amongst smaller businesses.
The average adult in the UK made 54 payments per month during 2017. Of these, 20 payments were by debit card with another 20 made by cash. The average adult also made nine contactless payments per month in 2017, significantly higher than 2016’s average of five.
Stephen Jones, Chief Executive, UK Finance said:
“The choice of payment options available in the UK is allowing people to choose to pay the way that best suits them. But we’re 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.
“These trends are likely to shift further over the next decade. Developments such as Open Banking are expected to bring extensive changes to the payments landscape, something that will likely shape how we interact with our money in the coming years.”
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