2014 marks the first time that U.K. “non-cash” payments outnumbered cash payments, in a total of 18 billion transactions. In its report, the U.K. Payments Council analyzed how cash was used by consumers in 2014 and how it could evolve in the next 10 years.
All in all, cashless payments in the U.K. continued their steady albeit slow rise in 2014, with 52 percent of all payments made via mobile, the Internet or through debit cards and checks.
With Scandanavian countries, the U.K. is one of Europe’s fastest growing cashless societies while the rest of the EU tries (or not) to play catch up. Always at the forefront of innovative payment services, the U.K. has, for instance, introduced contactless payments already in 2007. Initially limited at £10, the contactless payment service was recently bumped up to £30 due to its growing popularity. The U.K. has also introduced mobile payment service Paym, which is based on a collaboration between major British banks and the Payments Council. Paym has helped consumers and businesses transfer small payments between mobile customers without the need to exchange bank information.
Cash volume is forecasted to fall by 30 percent in the next 10 years, though it still is the most popular individual payment method. It is worth noting, however, that out of the 2.3 million consumers who decided to rarely use cash last year, half were under the age of 35. The debit card followed in popularity with 24 percent of all payments.
Despite the waning popularity of cash, 70,000 ATMs have been deployed across the U.K. last year as the total number of people using cash machines continues to grow year-on-year. All in, 47 million adults used a cash machine in 2014, with 91 percent of consumers making cash withdraws at least once a month.
And the U.K. is still rolling out new physical currency: a new £1 coin has just been designed and will enter circulation by 2017.