Friday 11 December 2015 10:33 am

Cashless society: Why businesses need to wake up to the rise of the digital future

The news that card and electronic transactions have overtaken cash as the UK’s preferred method of payment is a watershed moment for the nation’s businesses. 
As people increasingly choose their digital wallet over their leather one, any company, no matter what their size or sector, must get ready for a cashless future that is set to arrive sooner than many expected.
According to the statistics, 52 per cent of transactions now happen without the need for notes and coins, a number that climbs even higher when minor purchases below the cost of £1 are discounted. 
Currently, many of those payments are being made using debit or credit cards, and with the advent of new technologies like contactless, that proportion will only increase in coming years.
Yet, in truth, it is only the start. If the introduction of Chip and Pin and online have been the driving forces of the last decade, mobile payments on a smart device will pave the way to an ever more cashless society in the next one.   
According to Deloitte’s recent Mobile Consumer report, 35 million Britons now own a smartphone, with one in six of us looking at it more than 50 times a day.  Our own research puts the UK’s annual growth rate for mobile purchases at 36 per cent, compared to just 10 per cent for overall online spending. 
That’s billions of pounds of potential revenue waiting to be snapped up by businesses that offer their customers the smartest ways to pay on their phone. 
In short, as mobiles become more and more central to modern life consumers are no longer satisfied with just choosing how to pay, they want to be able to decide when to do it too. That might be on the bus, in the departures lounge or sat in a coffee shop. It could even be from the comfort of their own sofa without having to boot up their laptop. 
But what’s true in every case – and for every business – is that the future is a place where payments are made just as readily with a phone or tablet as they are with a five pound note.
For businesses, it means that thriving in a cashless society is about much more than just installing a Chip and Pin or offering a way to pay online.  To truly keep up, they must provide mobile payment platforms that are fast, simple and secure. 
Embrace the future and success awaits. Ignore it and you will find your customers are on the move. 

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.