Britons have an appetite for debit


New figures from Visa Europe demonstrate Britons' love of plastic. The company's latest annual stats show that £1 in every £3 spent in the UK is now spent on Visa cards, with the vast majority (£318 billion) spent on debit cards alone. The report also reveals that ecommerce spending is growing rapidly -- a trend that is likely to continue throughout 2012.debit-card

A record year
Consumers' appetite for spending on plastic, particularly on debit cards, is greater than ever, according to Visa Europe. European spending on Visa cards increased by 14% in 2011, reaching €1.16 trillion (£967 billion), while debit card spending experienced a 16% year-on-year growth in Europe (27% in the UK).

According to Peter Ayliffe, chief executive of Visa Europe, this "appetite for using debit" continues the trend that began in 2010, the year that debit overtook cash as the preferred mode of payment.

"Consumers' preference for debit cards signals just how fundamentally important electronic payments are to the UK's retail banking sector and the wider economy," Ayliffe said.

Online shopping shows significant growth
Another factor that has contributed to the recent growth in Visa card spending is the popularity of online shopping or 'ecommerce'. Almost a quarter (22%) of all Visa spending in the UK last year was carried out online -- a rise of more than 40% over the course of the year.

In order to meet consumers' demand for online shopping and innovative payment technologies, Visa is launching new mobile and digital wallet services in the coming months. This, along with the growth of contactless payments in the UK, could quickly change the way Britons shop.

"These new products ... will revolutionise consumers' everyday shopping experience to the extent that by 2020 we predict that over half of all Visa transactions will be on a mobile device," Ayliffe said.

See related: Is going contactless the way of the future?; Brits ahead of the pack when it comes to online shopping

Published: 24 January 2012