Cards overtake cash as customers go contactless for low value payments

Debit cards have overtaken retail cash transactions for the first time, according to new research, as consumers take advantage of contactless for low value payments on UK high streets.

According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) latest annual Payments Survey, card sales exceeded 50 per cent of all retail transactions in 2016. A combination of factors were cited as driving the trend towards cashless sales.

Between 2013 and 2016, the average transaction value made by card fell from £30.53 to £25.40, with customers clearly responding to the convenience of contactless payments. Meanwhile, a third of all card transactions are now contactless.

Alongside greater contactless use for low value payments, the increased contactless transaction ceiling of £30, up from £20 since late 2015, was also seen to contribute to diminished use of cash.

Commenting on the decline of cash sales, Andrew Cregan, a BRC policy advisor, said investment in both online and in-store payment channels and a reduction in transaction costs – through Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR) – had combined to benefit both retail owners and their customers.

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