Debit card payments overtook the number of those made by cash last year for the first time ever, a trade association has said. There were 13.2 billion debit card payments in 2017 – eclipsing the 13.1 billion payments made in cash, according to UK Finance. The body said the tipping point occurred in the final quarter of 2017 – a few months earlier than it had previously forecast.
The boom in contactless payments across the UK is a key driver of the growth of debit card use, with 5.6 billion contactless payments made last year on both debit and credit cards combined.
UK Finance estimates 63 per cent of people in the UK now use contactless payments. The average adult made nine contactless payments per month in 2017 – up from five in 2016.
Adam Herson, the business development director of Barclaycard, said: “More recently, we have seen a surge in the use of wearable and mobile payments, creating new, exciting opportunities for both shoppers and brands.
“Consumers are increasingly able to match their payment accessory or device to their lifestyle or fashion taste.”
By 2027, the average adult is expected to make 22 contactless payments per month. Those aged between 25 and 34 are the most likely group to use contactless cards. Last year, 77 per cent of people in this age group made contactless payments. Although people aged 65 or older are less likely than younger people to make contactless payments, more than half of this age group made contactless payments during 2017.
UK Finance said that while cash use is expected to continue to fall over the next decade, it is not about to die out as a form of payment. Cash is still the second most frequently used payment method, after debit cards.
Around 2.2 million people mainly used cash for their day-to-day shopping in 2017, said UK Finance. Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “The choice of payment options available in the UK is allowing people to choose to pay the way that best suits them.
“But we’re far from becoming a cash-free society and despite the UK transforming to an economy where cash is less important than it once was, it will remain a payment method that continues to be valued and preferred by many.”