UK becomes ‘cash-second’ nation as contactless payments soar

By Finextra news,

Britain has become a “cash-second” nation, claims Visa Europe, which saw an explosion in contactless payments drive an 11.5% rise in the number of transactions it recorded in the country last year.

In a year when more UK payments were made electronically than with cash for the first time, Visa Europe saw point-of-sale spend rise 9.6%. More than £1 in every £3 spent in the country is now on a Visa card.

There has been a surge in contactless payments, which grew 250% year-on-year and now account for one in seven Visa transactions, up from just one in 25 a year ago. Every day, more than one million Visa contactless transactions are happening on Transport for London’s network, while supermarkets dominate outside the capital.

Kevin Jenkins, MD, UK and Ireland, Visa Europe, says: “At this rate, cash will be seen as a peculiar way of paying for things in as little as five years’ time. Mobile payments will accelerate this change and we’ve invested in the infrastructure for it to take off.”

Across its 38 markets, Visa Europe – which is being bought by Visa Inc in a EUR21.2 billion deal – reported record revenues of EUR2.31 billion – up 25% year-on year. With costs flat for a third successive year, the organisation has returned a record EUR739 million to its member-shareholders.

Jenkins adds: “A combined Visa will be better positioned to accelerate the next generation of payments in the UK. The deal will give consumers and financial institutions across the UK greater access to global scale, technologies, investment and resources.”