IAN BENN: Cashless payments are the present and the future

File picture: John Devlin

File picture: John Devlin

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Money might make the world go round but, says Ian Benn, cashless payments are both the present and the future

So it’s true – cash is no longer king. Ingenico and YouGov just commissioned a survey that showed that nearly half (43 per cent) of UK consumers think that card/mobile payments will replace cash within the next ten years. A second survey across industry experts showed 71 per cent to be in agreement.

What is going on and why are we falling out of love with cash?

It seems that we can’t get enough of quick, fuss-free payments, with use of contactless cards tripling in the UK over the last year. And now that the spending limit has gone up from £20 to £30, we now use contactless cards for more than ten per cent of all the things we buy.

Despite these positive statistics, the UK’s use of cashless payments currently remains modest in comparison with some other countries. In many Nordic countries, cash payment is already seen as unusual. For years Swedish buses have not accepted cash, and although they might have extolled the virtues of money, money, money in their hit song, ABBA’s Stockholm museum does not accept cash either. In fact, only 20 per cent of payments in Sweden were made using cash in 2014, and Denmark and Finland are not far behind.

Norway’s, largest bank, DNB, recently called for the country to stop using cash altogether. The reality is that cash is expensive for banks and merchants to handle and governments find it difficult to tax.

However, the UK is beginning to catch up. From October this year, all black cabs in London will have to take cards and there is a strong government push to integrate all transport payments so that we can travel with any combination of carriers using one payment card. Big technology is playing its part, too, with ApplePay, SamsungPay, AndroidPay and, most recently, AliPay all bringing new choices to market while high-end grocer Waitrose has announced its first cashless store will be situated at Sky headquarters.

Add to this ‘in-app’ payments 
from mobile devices and online purchases and it won’t be long until we see the UK conversation move from if to when. But meanwhile, if you happen to have any old cash you don’t want . . .

• Ian Benn is UK managing director of Ingenico Northern Europe.