Consumers Cashing in on the Contactless Revolution

Contactless Payments

New figures show that debit card payments have overtaken cash use for the time first time, with contactless payments revolutionising where and how we spend our money.

According to UK Finance, over 13.2 billion debit card payments were made last year, rising 14% on the year previous. Compare this to the 13.1 billion cash payments made and the picture becomes clear; cash is becoming a thing of the past.

Changing Cultures

British consumers make over 38 billion payments every year and a growing number of these payments are now being made using contactless technology. The number of contactless payments doubled last year to 5.6 billion and signals an upward trend toward consumers embracing more tech options in their daily lives.

The increasing availability of contactless payments makes this payment process incredibly popular. Why carry cash when so many retailers and organisations offer this payment method?

A Cashless Society

Soon enough the days of flashing your cash may disappear as the norm becomes tapping your card on a PDQ machine. It enhances our daily lives, sure, but it doesn’t quite have the same allure and rush as frantically fumbling around for your bus fare…with a queue of tired commuters behind you.

What contactless does is make previously difficult or pesky situations easily handled. Enjoying that busker’s performance but have no change at hand? Have no fear, for London’s buskers are now taking contactless payments.

Quite ridiculous you could say, however it speaks volumes of the growing popularity of this particular payment method and as more retailers and businesses allow for this, the only way is up.

In 2018 even churches are tapping into the contactless revolution. The Church of England has introduced over 16,000 portable card readers to its various churches, cathedrals and other religious sites; following on from the success of this, the Church of Scotland followed suit with a pilot scheme aimed at providing parishioners the chance to make donations via card payments or Apple Pay.


As this digital revolution continues to develop and offer new, convenient ways of operating during our daily travels, the question of over-reliance must be raised.

The announcement of UK Finance’s figures comes only a week after millions of VISA cardholders across Europe were left in the dark due to continent-wide service failures. VISA Europe powers more than 95% of all British debit and credit cards and this incident does highlight the danger of relying on technology.

Businesses across Europe were left unable to accept card payments for an afternoon, leaving customers essentially in the dark and forcing them to withdraw cash until services resumed.

Contactless technology has and will continue to change the way in which consumers pay for services and products, however cash still plays a massive part in millions of lives across the UK.

Gareth Shaw, Which? Money Expert says that despite growing trends, cash does play an integral role in the lives of millions across the UK – and for many, using cash is a necessity.

He said: “Clearly the way we shop and pay for services is changing but for millions of people in the UK cash still plays an essential role in their everyday lives.

“With bank branch closures on the rise and the UK’s free-to-use ATM network under threat, it’s vital these people are still able to access the cash they need.”

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