Card is king, according to a new study

Around half of customers would walk away from a business if cash was the only payment option, a new study has revealed.

First Data, which published the research, found that UK SMEs risk losing one in every two customers by not accepting card payments.

The survey revealed that 43 per cent of customers who have been turned away for using card have gone to a competitor as a result, or ended up not making a purchase at all.

The remaining customers said they would attempt to find an ATM.

Under 25s are most likely to walk away from a purchase than any other age group if they can’t pay by card, it added.

The small businesses interviewed – including tradesmen, salesmen, and pop-up stalls – argued that providing a card function costs more and is inconvenient.

However, speed and security is the number one preference for consumers. Almost all (98 per cent) customers said they prefer using contactless cards to pay for purchases because it’s faster and more convenient, while not having to type a pin provided added security.

The survey also found that half (48 per cent) of customers look for an efficient shopping experience “with little interaction with store advisors”.

Raj Sond, general manager at First Data, said: “Time pushed, busy consumers are looking for a fast, hassle-free shopping experience. Convenience is paramount, and a smooth payment mechanism is vital in being able to offer a tailored, seamless service.

“With multiple shopping options on the high street and online it’s all too easy for potential customers to take their business elsewhere. Successful companies would be wise not to make assumptions about what their customers want.

“Historically, smaller retailers have been put off by the perceived cost of card acceptance, however when considering the banking time, cost and handling risk when it comes to dealing with cash, the cost of card acceptance is not the prohibiting factor it once was.

“Payment is a crucial part of the customer journey and experience and cannot be ignored in the quest for growth and loyalty.”