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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : October 27, 2016

Cash, and wallets, soon to be things of the past?

The popularity of contactless card payments and online shopping in the UK means that half of the population now carry very little in cash, according to new research released by Mastercard.

by Helen Leggatt

Half of adults in the UK (47%) carry with them less than £5 (US$6.10) in cash as banks and retailers make it easier for "tap and pay" technology and the rise in online shopping. Forty three percent said they carry less cash with them today than they did a few years ago. Just 7% said they carry more than £50 in cash.

"We're in the midst of a period of unprecedented change for payments," said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard UK and Ireland. "Cash usage is being buffeted by the dual forces of increased online expenditure and consumers embracing the convenience, speed and security of card and digital payments.

Meanwhile, the number of transactions made with cards has leapt by more than 9% each year since 2013, totaling 17billion transactions in the UK last year.

The decline of cash has also been driven by wearable technology and mobile payment technology.

The proportion of people in Europe who regularly use a mobile device to make everyday payments has tripled, according to Visa's recent '2016 Digital Payments Study'. More than half of consumers now use a mobile to pay for a variety of activities, up from 18% last year.

"This data is a confirmation that the future of digital payments has arrived, with consumers across the length and breadth of the UK and Europe embracing a variety of new ways to pay," said Kevin Jenkins, Visa's UK and Ireland managing director.

As well as cash becoming a thing of the past, Mastercard's survey found that one in five people believe wallets and purses might also soon be obsolete, rising to a third of those between the ages of 25 to 34. In fact, 10% said they have already ceased to carry a wallet or purse, preferring instead to keep their credit or debit card in a pocket and 24% said they would likely do the same in the future.

Tags: cashless society, contactless cards, Europe, mobile, personal finance, UK

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