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UK shoppers become 'cash second' as contactless soars

Britain continues to move towards becoming a cashless society with contactless payments soaring 250% last year.

New data from Visa Europe shows that during 2015 more payments were made electronically rather than with cash for the first time in the UK. One in seven transactions in the UK were made by swiping cards or devices such as an iPhone over a payment terminal – up from one in 25 a year ago.

Visa Europe reported a 9.6% increase in overall point-of-sale spend in the UK for the year to June 2015, while the number of transactions grew 11.5%.

Visa UK and Ireland managing director Kevin Jenkins predicts paying with cash will be seen as “peculiar” in as little as five years.

“In the UK, contactless has become the ‘new normal’. Low-value contactless payments now make up one in seven face-to-face Visa transactions, compared to 1-in-25 just one year ago. 60% of contactless transactions now take place outside the M25, confirming this isn’t just a London phenomenon. At this rate, cash will be seen as a peculiar way of paying for things in as little as five years’ time.

“Mobile payments will accelerate this change and we’ve invested in the infrastructure for it to take off. Almost 460,000 terminals across all of the UK are now ready for face-to-face contactless and mobile payments. From here on, every acceptance device that’s ever installed or upgraded will be contactless as standard. We’ve also launched a ’tokenisation’ service that supported Apple Pay’s debut in the UK, and is set to become the basis for more payment products and solutions in the months and years ahead.”

“The UK has always been a global pacesetter for payments. The accelerated shift to electronic payments is shaping the future of commerce, bringing tangible benefits to retailers enabling them to grow their businesses and to consumers by enabling them to pay where and when they choose, and on any device.”

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