News & Views - Savantor

Cash is no longer King/Still King (delete as appropriate)

Friday, 16 April 2010

Here we go again in the annual yes it is/no it isn’t debate on the future of cash. Cash has seen its position as king of payments challenged in the UK over the last 10 years by alternatives such as debit and contactless cards and the Internet, says the Payments Council, which predicts the trend will continue, leaving notes and coins all but redundant by 2050. Usually this type of report is followed by a report from the British Retail Consortium stating that cash remains robustly popular with customers. Surely it’s no surprise that cash usage is declining but will it ever be wiped out? Probably not. In its 'The Way We Pay 2010' report, the Council notes that cash still appears popular, accounting for six in 10 transactions albeit down from nearly three quarters 10 years ago.

In five years, cash transactions are expected to represent less than half the total for the first time. The trend is predicted to accelerate over the next 10 years and by 2018 the amount of cash used in the UK could fall by 20%.

But then there are 63,000 ATMs in the UK today, two-and-a-half times more than ten years ago. In 1999 62% of cash withdrawn from accounts came from an ATM - by 2009 it was 85%. According to the report this does not mean society is "wedded to cash" though, just that people are accessing it through machines, not through pay-packets or bank branches. Well maybe but it also shows that customer demand for cash is still pretty strong and although the Council speculates that cash could be all but dead within 40 years - I’ll bet you a tenner it’s not.

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