A MILESTONE on the road to a cashless society was announced today as Debit Cards (including NFC from contactless and mobile payments) overtook cash payments in the UK during 2017.
UK finance figures show we spent £13.2bn on debit cards and other contactless systems but £13.1bn with cash.
It's good news for the disruptors who have brought card acceptance to smaller retailers.
Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of SumUp comments: "This landmark moment for the cashless society is not necessarily that surprising. As payments technology improves, like with contactless, we are seeing society adapt rapidly.
"What's reassuring to see from this report is that contactless payments have allowed older people - the generations often overlooked by tech developments - to move away from cash.
But NFC is where it begins, not where it ends. He continues: "As with most tech advancements, efficiency, convenience, and security will always win in the long run.
"For payments in particular, there will be some very exciting developments, as the likes of wearable, voice-recognition, and biometric technology improves. Who knows, soon you might well be paying for a latte with a simple scan of your retina."
The next stage could be a Western adoption of the Chinese way, QR codes built into apps like WeChat, which make an instant, secure payment option without the burden of an NFC card to lose.
Sarah Harvey, UK Lead at Square, commented on the report: "Today's report reflects what we've been seeing for a while - shoppers across the UK are carrying less cash than ever, and that is impacting the bottom lines of small businesses that rely solely on cash. At Square we carried out a survey that shows how people avoid shopping with businesses that don't accept cards. 81% say they would be more likely to shop locally if they were able to pay by card, while more than one in four of us (26%) feel that businesses that don't take cards are old-fashioned.
"New figures out today show that bank branch closures are now averaging 60 a month. The way people do business is changing, and that's having a disproportionate impact on small businesses.
"Technology can often seem frightening, but if you're a small business owners - especially one that depends on cash - you should take this moment to get set up with technologies like mobile card payments or digital invoicing. They're actually very simple and easy to set up, and will help future-proof your business."
At the start of this year, there were almost 119 million contactless cards in circulation, - 78 per cent of debit cards and 62 per cent of credit cards in the UK are contactless currently.
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