Contactless cards were supposed to take over as the way to pay, but stretched shoppers are returning to cash to help control their spending
The arrival of a “cashless society” appears to be further away than we thought: coins and notes are staging an unexpected comeback.
It has emerged that UK consumers and businesses made 20.8bn cash payments in 2012 compared with 20.6bn in 2011, breaking the longer term trend of falling cash usage seen over most of the past decade.
A new industry report also reveals that more people are turning to cash exclusively, as financially stretched Britons seek to have greater control over their spending. In 2012, 7.2 million adults made all of their day-to-day purchases using cash, an increase of around 700,000 compared with 2011.
The figures provide fresh evidence that the supposed cash-free shopping revolution, with Britons ditching notes and change in favour of using contactless debit and credit cards to pay for less costly items, may have hit a roadblock.
However, the news that cash still seems to have plenty of life left will presumably be welcomed by many, including buskers, charity tin collectors and makers of piggy banks.
The data is contained in UK Cash & Cash Machines 2013, published by the Payments Council in conjunction with cash machine network Link and the UK Cards Association.
It states that 54% of all payments in the UK are made with cash.
David Hensley, head of cash at the Payments Council, said: “Cash is still a vital part of our day-to-day lives, and more than half of all our payments are in cash, reflecting its easy use and its wide acceptance.”
For several years, debit and credit cards displaying the contactless “wave” symbol have been hyped as the next big thing in banking and retail because they enable customers to pay for items worth £20 or less without having to key in a pin number or scrabble around for cash. Instead, they simply scan their plastic over a reader at the till.
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