Debit cards ‘set to overtake cash as most-used payment by 2021’

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Debit cards are set to overtake cash to be the UK’s most frequently-used payment method by 2021, according to a payments industry trade association.

Payments UK said card use is being boosted by the rising popularity of contactless “tap and go” payments, with mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay also providing new opportunities for people to make payments without even needing their plastic to hand.

In 2014, the volume of non-cash payments overtook total cash payments for the first time, at 52% against 48%.

But despite accounting for less than half of payments, cash has remained the most popular payment method in the UK compared with all the other types of non-cash payment.

Some 45.1% of payments made in 2015 were still made in cash.

However, industry experts predict that by 2025, notes and coins will be used for just 27% of payments, while credit, debit and charge cards will account for more than half (50.2%) of all payments made.

The tipping point at which cash will no longer be king is expected to come in 2021, when it is predicted 14.5 billion debit card payments will be made, overtaking the 13 billion cash payments forecast for the first time.

Payments UK’s figures include payments made by consumers and businesses.

Looking specifically at consumer payments, the average UK adult made 20 card payments per month in 2015, with around two payments per month being contactless.

By 2025 people are predicted to use a debit, credit or charge card virtually every day