Alternative payments growing fast in the UK

In 2012 use of cash for shopping fell 10 per cent - and the rate of decline is accelerating.

AccessTimeIconMay 30, 2013 at 9:28 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 10, 2021 at 10:47 a.m. UTC
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UK punters are using more electronic money, but cash is still king on the High Street. In 2012 use of cash for shopping fell 10 per cent - and the rate of decline is accelerating. The big winners are debit cards and newer methods such as PayPal, for online purchases.

The numbers come from the British Retail Consortium and show that just over half of all transactions are still carried out in cash - 54.4 per cent. But this is down 6.7 per cent in terms of numbers of transactions and a fall of 9.7 per cent in terms of value - the first time both figures went down in 13  years of collecting data.

The BRC said there was 3.4 per cent fall in credit and charge card payments as people try and keep a handle on their finances. Five per cent of transactions now avoid traditional payment methods entirely - being made via PayPal or other alternative.

Accepting cards is still costing shopkeepers dear. Average processing costs for cards are 25 times as much as for cash- 38 pence versus 1.5 pence for cash deals.

Helen Dickinson, Director General of the British Retail Consortium, said:

New ways to pay and new ways to shop are shaping the retail landscape like never


Cash is still the most popular way to pay, but our survey shows how rapidly

alternative and emerging methods are gaining ground, with growth more than

doubling on the previous year...

Against a backdrop of greater retail efficiency and innovation, the one

jarring note is that charges remain disproportionately high. They continue to

rise even though credit card use has fallen. It beggars belief that retailers

incur average charges of 38p per credit and charge card transaction, 25 times

more than for cash.

Although credit and charge cards account for only 10.6 per cent of transactions, they take up 50.1 per cent of costs for shopkeepers.

The survey covered 10bn UK purchases, or £182bn out of total UK High Street  spending of £311bn in 2012 - more details on the BRC website here.


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