Moving towards a less-cash society

Moving towards a less-cash society

Stuart Haire, Managing Director RBS and NatWest Direct Bank talks trends in spending and reveals why he thinks we'll never be a completely cashless society.

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Stuart Haire
MD Direct Bank

16 July 2015

Location plays a part in determining if you’re more likely to reach for plastic or flash some cash.

When you buy your shopping at the supermarket do you use cash or your debit or credit card? What about buying a pint of milk at the local shop? Or a train ticket at the station?

Increasingly people are choosing to use their cards over cash. Payments UK recently released data showing that for the first time ever more transactions were done using cards than cash in the UK. This data published also conveys the pace of change in the payments industry at the moment.

So why are we moving away from cash? Ease of payment is one of the key factors. There’s no rummaging in your purse or wallet for the correct change. Last year, spending using contactless cards trebled with over £2.3bn worth of transaction taking place in 2014.

Location also plays a part in determining if you’re more likely to reach for your plastic or flash some cash. In London, the contactless capital of the world, you can’t use cash on the bus network but you can use your contactless cards. Further afield the Danish government recently proposed that business such as clothing retailers, petrol stations and restaurants should no longer be legally-bound to accept cash.

This all supports the view that Apple Pay, launched in the UK yesterday, is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. It means you can pay for purchases costing under £20 using a compatible iPhone. With over 70% of the UK population owning a mobile phone, (58% of which are smart phones) that’s a huge potential market. Personally, I like using Apple Pay and contactless when I’m buying a coffee, my lunch and on the tube but I do still  believe there will always be room for cash – I can’t see the tooth fairy rewarding toothless children with her Apple Watch any time soon!

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