Cash still rules despite continued rise of ‘tap and go’ payments


Cash is still the leading choice of mode of payment even though its use is slipping, numbers from a trade association reveal.

The volume of cash payments dropped by 11% in 2015 and 2016. But physical money continues the most used payment method in the UK, with buyers and companies still tendering 15.4 billion cash payments in 2016.

Cash served for 44% of all payments made by buyers in 2016 and less than 4% of the volume of payments made by companies.

2016 was the second year through which buyers used physical money for less than half of transactions, while a number of cash payments made for less than £1 has halved during the past ten years.

Debit cards were the second most used payment option, with 11.6 billion payments registered.

The average value of a cash payment has expanded over the past decade from £11.58 in 2006 to £15.80 in 2016 which is due to both inflation and shifting consumer choices.

Electronic “tap and go” card transactions have become a more popular option to cash when people are spending for cheap goods.

Almost 2.9 million individuals rarely used cash last year, serving 6% of the UK’s adult population. Meanwhile, people in younger age crowds are more likely to be non-cash payers, with more than 10 percent of those aged 25 to 34 making just one cash transaction each month or none at all.

In the next ten years, the number of cash transactions is foreseen to decline by 43%.

Adrian Buckle, chief economist at UK Finance, stated: “It is clear that over the past few years we have witnessed a significant shift away from cash use in this country with contactless cards undoubtedly causing a decrease in the use of notes and coins.

“However we don’t believe that the UK is on the verge of becoming cashless, as some reports have claimed. People will always want to choose the payment methods that best suits them and, for the foreseeable future, in lots of cases that will continue to be cash.”