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June 2, 2014

UK shoppers shun cash in favour of mobile and online payments

British consumers pass “a milestone” in embracing new technology, BRC survey finds.

By Vinod

The number of mobile and online payments in the UK has reached its highest level yet as British shoppers increasingly shun the use of cash.

Figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) show that shoppers are increasingly turning to card, mobile and contactless payments as an alternative to using notes and coins, passing what it called "a milestone in the development of the UK’s digital economy".

Cash payments were down 3.3% in the last two years as shoppers increasingly use utilise contactless cards and mobile payment options to make smaller "on the go" payments for which they would have previously used cash, according to the BRC’s Payments Survey, which examined 60% of the £191 billion spent in British shops last year.

"Customers are taking advantage of new ways to shop and pay," BRC director general Helen Dickinson said of the findings.

"The availability of contactless cards, handy express stores and self-service tills as well as online sales has increased the use of debit cards for smaller payments in place of cash."

Cash payments now make up just £27.64 in every £100 spent at retailers in 2013, down sharply from £32.15 five years ago, equivalent to a 14% fall. Overall, the average value of each cash transaction in the UK was £9.47, down 17% from 2009, when it stood at £11.43.

The BRC’s survey also showed that banks are still being hit with "unjustifiably" high charges for using cards, with the average costs to a retailer of processing a credit or charge card payment increasing by 18% in the past five years.

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Debit card payments, on average, cost 8.8 pence to process up 4% over the same period.

The European Union is close to approving a plan to cap how much banks can charge retailers to process card payments.

A recent survey by mobile payments company PayPoint estimated that by 2019, nearly a third of all transactions made in the UK will be made by methods such as mobile payments, vouchers, coupons and PayPal, as opposed to 9.3% of transactions made today.

The next few years will also see an increase in those of us who are ‘unbanked’ – without any financial ties to typical banks, meaning they are open to a variety of flexible banking and payments options.


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