The UK's love affair with contactless payments continues to flourish

Last year one in five payments in the UK were made using contactless, and almost seven out of ten people are now using this payment method. The popularity of contactless payments is not limited to the young or to lovers of new technology. More than six out of ten people in every age group are using contactless, and the number of people choosing to pay this way continues to rise rapidly as people take advantage of the speed, simplicity and security of contactless.

Does this mean that we are on our way to becoming a cashless society? Not at all. Cash is still the second most popular method of payment in the UK and was chosen for more than a quarter of all payments during 2018. Cash has the benefit of being universally recognisable, it does not rely on technology at the point of sale, and it is particularly useful for people who prefer a tangible way to manage their budgets. Some people will always prefer to use cash for certain transactions.

Yet we now have more choice available to us when making payments than in any previous generation. While we are not on our way to becoming a cashless society, we are certainly becoming a society that uses less cash. One in ten adults in the UK are already leading a largely cashless life, turning to cash only once a month or less frequently.

People will always choose the payment methods that suit them best in any given situation, and increasingly people are choosing to pay by debit card. As a result, UK Finance predicts that in 2028, while we will still be using cash for almost one in ten payments, debit cards will be used for over half of all payments made in the UK.

The UK payments landscape has transformed over the last decade. With the advent of Open Banking, and the creation of Pay.UK which is delivering the Payment Strategy Forum's blueprint for a new payments architecture in the UK, the transformation of the UK's payments landscape is only just beginning. As the future unfolds, UK Finance's definitive data analysis and market insight will remain essential reading for those in the industry and beyond who want to understand the UK's ever dynamic payments sector. The latest data and insights can be found in our report UK Payment Markets 2019.