Small debit card payments increase

Cash remains king with consumers but a growing number of smaller payments are being made by debit card as everyday use of digital technology increases, a report has found.

Most payments are still made with cash but debit card use is increasing
Most payments are still made with cash but debit card use is increasing

Some 53% of transactions were made using cash last year, falling from 54% in 2012, the report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found.

Over the last five years the average transaction value for cash has seen a 17% slide, from £11.43 in 2009 to £9.47 in 2013.

The value of cash taken by retailers as a proportional share to all other payment methods taken has fallen by 14%, from 32.15% to 27.64%, over the five-year period.

The BRC said shoppers are increasingly becoming accustomed to using technology such as contactless "tap and go" debit card payments, which allow people to make payments of up to £20 simply by swiping their card on a reader.

Debit cards now account for 32% of the number of transactions compared with 30% in 2012.

The report said that increased use of online shopping and stores' promotion of "self-service" facilities, where card use is seen as a convenient way to pay, is helping to boost people's debit card use.

The fact that the average value of a debit card payment is decreasing is another indication that debit cards are increasingly being whipped out of wallets in cases where cash payments would have previously been used, the report said.

The average transaction value of a debit card payment has fallen by 12%, from £31.45 in 2009 to £27.58 in 2013.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, said: "Customers are taking advantage of new ways to shop and pay.

"The availability of contactless cards, handy express stores and self-service tills as well as online sales has increased the use of debit cards for smaller payments in place of cash.

"This is very much in line with the attention customers have paid to price and value during the recent economic uncertainty as they have sought to minimise payments from their budgets for everyday items."

She continued: "Cash use down 14% in the last five years is a milestone in the development of our digital economy."

The BRC's Payments Survey 2013 covers 60% of total UK retail sales.