One in 10 UK adults rarely uses cash amid rise of contactless and mobile banking

One in 10 UK adults rarely uses cash at all – but one in 25 still relies on it as their main spending method, a report has found.

UK Finance said 10% of consumers – equating to 5.4 million people across the country – made one or no cash payments per month in 2018.

This is a jump of two million people compared with 2017, when 3.4 million rarely used cash.

Meanwhile, 4% of consumers mainly used cash for their spending in 2018, although most paid bills using other methods. This equates to 1.9 people who mainly spend using cash.

Cash was used for 28% of payments in 2018 and is forecast to still be used for one in 10 payments in a decade’s time.

But as recently as 2008, cash made up six in 10 (60%) payments.

Bank branch and ATM closures have heightened concerns among consumer campaigners about people’s continued access to cash.

UK Finance said it is working with the recently-established Joint Authorities Cash Strategy Group (Jacs) to help ensure cash continues to be available to those who need it.

Having overtaken cash in 2017, debit cards remained the most frequently used payment method in 2018, with 38% of payments last year made by debit card.

Many people now swipe their card in situations where they would previously have used cash.

The adoption of technology accepting contactless payments on public transport, and an increase in the single payment limit on contactless cards to £30 in 2015, has helped to fuel the popularity of this payment method.

More than one in five (21%) payments made by consumers in 2018 were made with contactless cards in 2018, up from 16% in 2017.

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) adults across the UK now use contactless payments.

Across the UK, people living in the South East and East Anglia are particularly likely to use contactless, while those in the North West of England are the least likely, the research found.

Older customers are increasingly embracing the technology, with more than three-fifths (61%) of over-65s making contactless payments in 2018, up from 50% in 2017, UK Finance said.

By 2024 debit cards are forecast to account for half of all payments.

Across the UK, adults made an average of 11 contactless card payments per month last year – but by 2028 they are expected to make 24 per month typically.

UK Finance said people are taking a “pick’n’mix” approach to payments.

Its UK Payment Markets report found that nearly half (48%) of UK adults used mobile banking in 2018, up from 41% the previous year.

By the end of 2018, an estimated 8.5 million people were registered to buy goods and services using mobile payment services such as Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

This means 16% of the adult population are now registered for mobile payment services, up from just 2% in 2016.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “The same pick‘n’mix approach people now take when it comes to music, television or the news is expanding into payments, as consumers take advantage of new technologies to pay in a way that suits them.

“More and more customers are now opting for the speed and convenience of paying with their contactless cards, or using mobile banking to check their balances and make transfers while on the move.

“This rapid rate of technological change is set to continue over the coming decade, as people embrace the ever-widening number of ways to pay and manage their finances, depending on their needs and lifestyle.

“However, technology is not for everyone and cash remains a payment method that is valued and preferred by many, so maintaining access to cash will be vital to ensure no customer is left behind.”

John Howells, chief executive of ATM network Link, said it is vital to reform how cash is distributed to maintain broad, free access for all consumers.

“Link is determined to deliver this with the support of industry and regulators,” he said.

Here are the percentages of adults who use contactless across the UK, according to UK Finance:

– South East and East Anglia, 72%
– Midlands, 71%
– London, 70%
– Wales, 70%
– Scotland, 69%
– South West, 67%
– North East and Yorkshire, 66%
– Northern Ireland, 66%
– North West, 58%

And here are the average numbers of payments UK adults made each month in 2018:

– 28 card payments, of which 11 were contactless
– 17 cash payments
– Six direct debits
– 1.3 payments via online banking or mobile banking
– 0.8 standing orders
– 0.3 cheques

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