Britain has passed another milestone on the path to a cashless society, with 2015 the first year that cash was used for less than half of all payments by consumers.
Cash usage will be eclipsed by debit cards and contactless payments by 2021, according to Payments UK, which represents the major banks, building societies and payment providers.
In 2015 cash made up 45.1% of payments, compared with 64% in 2005, and is expected to fall to just a quarter by 2025. It will largely be replaced with payments by contactless cards, which have soared in popularity.
Contactless payments grew threefold in 2015, with more than a billion “wave and pay” transactions over the year. Since the start of 2016 contactless use has gathered pace, particularly on the London Underground network. On the high street, one in six card purchases are now contactless, with Tesco leading the way.
But Payments UK’s annual review of how households pay for goods and services reveals that the death of the cheque has been much exaggerated. It said that 546m cheques were written in 2015, despite the fact most retailers now refuse to accept them.