Britain now a ‘cash-second’ economy as contactless payments rise 250% in one year

Visa Europe have labelled the UK a ‘cash-second’ economy, as the number of contactless card payments rose by a staggering 250% year-on-year in 2015.

The credit card giant claimed that one in seven transactions using Visa cards in 2015 were completed using their relatively new contactless technology.

With ever-increasing numbers using cards, mobiles and on-person technology to pay for goods and services, Visa Europe saw its 2015 revenues soar by 25% to hit €2.31billion last year.

Visa Europe’s annual report tells that The Transport for London network is by far the company’s biggest contactless outlet. However, 60% of pin-free payments occurred outside of the capital in 2015, proving that contactless is fast emerging as a preferred method of payment across the country.

Across the UK, the amount being spent on cards grew by 9.6% in 2015, while the number of transactions completed using non-cash methods rose by 11.5%.

According to Visa Europe, £1 in every £3 spent in the UK is now on a Visa card, yet fraud remains below 5p in every £100 spent.

Visa Europe’s Chief Executive, Nicolas Huss, said: “Our new Annual Report shows that, financially, this was our most successful year ever – and by quite some distance… while we’re keeping fraud at record low levels and investing in multiple layers of cyber and data security.”

Kevin Jenkins, Visa Europe’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “In the UK, contactless has become the ‘new normal’ and, at this rate, cash will be seen as a peculiar way of paying for things in as little as five years’ time.”

The majority of figures produced exposing the sidelining of cash invariably come from companies or bodies with a vested interest in the cause, yet Visa Europe is not alone in its findings.

Last month, the UK Cards Association revealed that three-quarters of all retail sales in 2014 were paid for by card, compared with just 54% back in 2005.

Supermarket card payments have also increased significantly. In 2005, Britons spent £51.2billion using cards in supermarkets. The UK Cards Association claim that, by 2014, this figure had reached a staggering £99.5 billion.