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Further drop in cash payments as digital continues to grow

From the data collected, it was clear that debit card payments were the most prominent form of cashless payment.

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Image: © AFP Roberto Pfeil
Image: © AFP Roberto Pfeil

Cashless payments have rapidly grown in popularity in many nations. This includes the U.K. where cashless payments are rapidly replacing cash as the new prominent way for consumers to pay for their goods offline.

Within this headline figure, there are different forms of cashless payment types. To find out more about how these payments have grown in popularity, the comparison website BusinessComparison has provided Digital Journal with an assessment of the data.

This 2023 cashless payment trend survey reveals just 17 percent of U.K. consumers prefer paying in cash. This is based on a survey of 2,000 U.K. adults to determine how often people pay using cash, and which payment types are the most commonly used. Data was drawn from the Bank of International Settlements database.

The research found that, overall, Europe had seen 180,147 million cashless payments in 2020. The continent recorded the third-highest volume of cashless payments at the time of the data being collected, accounting for 20 percent of all global cashless payments.

In terms of the U.K., the nation state recorded 30,914 million payments during the 12-month period, of which, 20,722 million were cashless – making up 67 percent of total payments for the U.K. Broken down per capita, this amounted to 455.32 cashless payments per person in 2020, with the United Kingdom recording a population size of over 67 million people at the time.

The U.K. recorded 17,522 million debit card payments, alongside 2,851 million credit card payments and 345 million delayed debit card payments. Interestingly, no records for digital wallet payments were found at the time of the data collection.

From the data collected, it was clear that debit card payments were the most prominent form of cashless payment.

Despite the growth in contactless payments, the survey found that cash was still being used relatively often in the UK. Here, 44 percent of respondents said that they had paid in cash within the last week, with a further 17 percent using cash in the last two weeks. An additional 13 percent reported paying in cash within the last month. Only 1 percent of respondents had never paid using cash. Many of these respondents were between the ages of 18-24 (8 percent).

There were some regional variations. For instance, 62 percent of respondents from Wales had paid in cash within the last week, alongside 51 percent from the North West. In comparison, 24 percent of respondents in the North East and 20% in Northern Ireland had used cash within the last month.

When asked where they had last paid using cash, it was hospitality was the main reason with 11 percent of respondents saying they had been in a cafe or deli, with 9 percent spending cash in a restaurant.

Other common locations for physical cash to be spent included:

  • Charity shop (9%)
  • Farmer’s market (7%)
  • Pub (6%)
  • Butcher’s shop or fishmongers (5%)

As to why consumers were choosing to pay using cash? For many, it was a matter of necessity. Almost 30 percent said they had used cash as they were only making a small purchase (29 percent), with another 29 percent saying they were using up cash they already had on them.

Other common reasons for paying in cash included:

  • The business only accepted cash (15%)
  • Technical issues meant only cash could be used (7%)
  • Prefer paying in cash (17%)

Most notably, just 17percent of respondents said they prefer paying in cash – highlighting how much attitudes towards cash payments have changed.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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