Britons anticipate cash-free future


Britons are carrying increasingly small amounts of change in their wallets and many believe cash will die out completely in the future, according to new research from Barclaycard and Barclays. The survey, conducted by research firm Populus, reveals a growing acceptance of new payment technologies, such as contactless debit and credit cards.


Two-thirds find cash a nuisance
The latest research from Barclaycard and Barclays shows that two-thirds of people find cash inconvenient, with many feeling frustrated by the weight of coins and the space they take up in a wallet or pocket. Most people (57%) refuse to carry 1p or 2p coins and 50% do whatever it takes to get rid of small change, even if it means putting it in the bin.

One in eight people no longer carry any cash at all and the average purse or wallet contains just £23. Respondents to the survey, which involved 2,000 adults, cited a number of reasons for preferring debit and credit cards to cash, with 17% claiming they make it easier to keep track of spending.

Cash to become obsolete?
Half of survey respondents said they believe coins and notes will die out in the future, thanks to the convenience of credit cards and modern payment technologies. For instance, the growth of contactless payments means Britons can now make small purchases with a single tap of their credit card against an in-store reader, rather than digging in their purse for cash or entering their four-digit pin.

Dan Wass, head of current accounts and contactless at Barclays, said that the survey's results show that cash is clearly "no longer king."

"Consumers are increasingly less willing to carry large amounts of change around with them and many believe that coins will become obsolete in the future," said Mr Wass in a statement. "It is clear that shoppers are now looking for alternative methods of payment, such as contactless, which will allow them to avoid spending time fumbling for change in a queue and will take up less space in their wallet."

Richard Armstrong, head of UK payment acceptance at Barclaycard, agreed in the statement that an increasing number of consumers "are turning to cards as a way to manage their spending and avoid the burden of cash." He added that this gives retailers "a real opportunity to seize the benefits that accepting card payments brings -- especially new innovations such as contactless."

Contactless awareness on the rise
The survey also confirmed that Britons' understanding of contactless payments is improving. Just 28% of people responding to a similar survey in 2010 said they would recognise the contactless logo at the point of sale, but this has now risen to 44%. Meanwhile, the proportion of shoppers who understand the capabilities of contactless technology has risen from 45% to 62% over the course of 12 months.

See related: Study: Credit cards more expensive, harder to obtain; Study: Quarter of Brits make mobile credit card payments

Published: 4 August 2011