Cards account for half of all payments for the first time

Customers are ditching cash in favour of credit and debit cards.Customers are ditching cash in favour of credit and debit cards.
Customers are ditching cash in favour of credit and debit cards.
Transactions on credit and debit cards accounted for over half of all payments for the first time last year, a report has found.

Debit cards were the most used payment method in the UK with 17 billion payments, of which 7 billion were contactless, according to the latest UK Payment Markets report from UK Finance.

Consumer use of credit cards also rose during 2019, up by 7 per cent to 3.3 billion payments, driven partly by the increase in contactless credit cards issued last year with 1.3 billion credit card payments made via contactless in 2019.

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The number of contactless payments across debit and credit cards increased by 16 per cent to 8.6 billion. The report said this continued move by consumers towards these payment methods may have helped prepare customers for the changes they now face due to the coronavirus lockdown, when many businesses are encouraging card payments - and in particular, contactless - to reduce the spread of the virus.

Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance, said: “An increase in ways to pay coupled with the change in people’s payment habits may have inadvertently gone some way to prepare the nation for the impact of Covid-19 on their daily lives. With consumers already using contactless payments and remote banking more than in previous years, these technological advances have allowed many people to shop and make payments safely from home or in store.

“The impact of Covid-19 may accelerate these habits for many customers; however, we are fully aware that not all customers are digitally-enabled which is why we are working flat out to ensure people have access to cash and everyday banking services remain available to help the country through these difficult times.”

The organisation said it would monitor the impact that the crisis has had on payment method.

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