More debit card than cash payments expected this year

25 February 2018 - Janet Bird

debit card payment

Debit card payments are expected to top cash purchases for the first time this year in the UK.

A growing tendency to use cards for smaller transactions in pubs and cafes, as well as for bus and train tickets, is behind the shift.

Data collected by The Guardian newspaper from UK Finance, which represents leading finance and banking firms, has shown that 2016 saw the lowest number of withdrawals from ATMs in six years at 2.7 billion.

The total amount withdrawn from ATMs also fell sharply - more than £6 billion less was taken out in 2016 than in the previous year.

And while Bank of England data shows the volume of cash in the economy typically increases every year, it is now doing so at the slowest rate since 1972.

While cash handling businesses scoff at the idea of a cashless society, pointing out there are more bank notes in circulation, of a higher value, than ever before, this includes money lying dormant in vaults and ATMs and does not reflect how much is actually being used.

By 2026, figures from UK Finance suggest cash will be used for just 21 percent of transactions, compared to 40 percent in 2016 and 62 percent in 2006.

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