Cashless society? Debit cards will overtake cash much sooner than expected with the rise of contactless

Lynsey Barber
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Cashless Payments Overtake The Use Of Notes And Coins
Cards will be used more than cold hard cash in 2018 (Source: Getty)

The rising popularity of using contactless in the UK means we might just be heading for a cashless society sooner than we thought.

New figures reveal debit cards are set to overtake the use of cash next year – three years earlier than experts had previously predicted.

Read more: Forget contactless, train tickets could soon use fingerprints and facial recognition

Debit cards were used 11.6bn times last year, growing by 14 per cent, and by next year will hit 13.4bn, card association Payments UK forecasts. That surpasses the use of cash which is expected to be used for 13.3bn payments.

The number of contactless payments more than doubled in 2016 to 2.9m and is expected to account for a quarter of all payments made in a decade's time. The pin-free transactions accounted for seven per cent last year. Cash was used 15.4bn times.

"This is a significant shift but it’s vital to note that even in the face of this change, we believe any claims the UK will soon become a cashless society are wide of the mark," said chief economist of Payments UK Adrian Buckle.

Read more: We've already spent more via contactless than in all of 2015

But, cash will still have a place in the near future.

“People will always want to choose the payment methods that best suit them, and cash will remain a frequently used payment method for the foreseeable future. In 10 years’ time, we will still be using cash for one in five payments in the UK, even as mobile payments and other innovations provide ever greater choice about how to pay," said Buckle.

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