Kerching! Just 33% of Brits are comfortable with a cashless society

September 14, 2017

As the nation gets set to embrace the new style £10 notes, Mintel’s Consumer Payment Preferences UK 2017 Report reveals cash is king for the majority of Brits, as today, just a third (33%) of consumers say they would be comfortable with a cashless society.

Mintel research confirms most Brits are reluctant to let go of their pounds, pennies and notes. Indeed, while a cashless society is most appealing to Brits aged 25-34 (46%), a willingness to give up cash declines with age, falling to only a fifth (20%) of Brits aged 55 and over.

And while women (28%) are less in favour of a cashless society than men (38%), regionally, those in London (37%) and Scotland (36%) are most comfortable dispensing with cash. This compares to just 30% of Brits living in Yorkshire and Humberside and South East/East Anglia (respectively).

The top three payment methods used in the last three months* are cash (93%), debit card (Chip & PIN) (82%) and direct debit/standing order (79%).

Patrick Ross, Senior Financial Services Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While alternative payment methods continue to grow, the demise of cash has been greatly exaggerated. Many people still prefer using cash, while others simply like to have some cash with them just in case. Although card payments are almost universally accepted in urban areas, cash continues to play an important role in everyday life.”

While Brits are keeping a tight hold of their coins and notes, as many as half (49%) of all consumers have used a contactless debit card in the last three months*, while 45% have used a contactless credit card. And while alternative payment methods continue to evolve, just three in ten (31%) Brits have used the humble cheque in the last three months*, making it among Brits’ three least favoured payment methods. Only contactless smartphone payments (13%) and contactless wearables (9%) attract a lower number of users.

Although consumers continue to adopt high tech payment methods, Mintel finds many Brits remain reluctant to use them. More than half (52%) of consumers say they would put off using a payment method if it is not widely accepted. What is more, some four in ten (37%) who have not used a smartphone to make payments or transfers in the past 12 months* say they simply prefer using other payment methods (eg cash, debit card). Meanwhile, 34% of the same group say they have security concerns about smartphone payments or transfers.

“Despite widespread ownership of both smartphones and cards, many people continue to show a preference for cash. Putting aside allowances for finding anything in a bag quickly, it’s clear that there isn’t all that much difference in terms of the convenience of these options. The fact that contactless smartphone payments don’t offer added convenience over contactless card payments will remain a significant barrier to uptake.” Patrick adds.

Finally, when it comes to payment devices, almost eight in ten (78%) consumers say they have bought something online using a laptop or desktop computer in the last 12 months*, compared with 29% who have done so using a smartphone device.

More than half (57%) of all adults haven’t used a smartphone for any kind of online payment or transfer in the last 12 months*. While younger Brits have grown up with mobile devices and smartphones, 40% of 16-34s who have not used a smartphone to make payments or transfers in the last year say they prefer payment methods other than smartphones.

“For many, it is just easier to use a laptop or desktop computer when making payments online. The screen is bigger, the process is easier to navigate and there is little value placed on shopping online while on the go.” Patrick concludes.

*Through April 2017

Press review copies of the Consumer Payment Preferences UK 2017 Report and interviews with Patrick Ross, Senior Financial Services Analyst at Mintel, are available on request from the press office.

Susanna Capecchi
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