It’s official: cash is dying

WIRED: Cashless payment has overtaken hard cash for the first time. The UK Payments Council reports that 52 percent of transactions were made with notes and coins in 2014, but says it believes the figure will fall below 50 percent for 2015.

Instead customers are using cards, smartphones, online banking and contactless payments to send their money elsewhere — and it looks like that transition is set to continue. The Council said that debit cards alone count for 24 percent of all transactions, but that cash does remain the most popular form of payment.

“This is the first time that ‘non-cash’ payments have exceeded those made with cash, reflecting the steady trend to use automated payment methods and debit cards rather than pay by notes and coins,” the report said. “Despite the shift, cash remains the most popular way to pay among consumers.”

The report added that cash machines reached a new peak in 2014 with 69,382 machines, including 50,506 free-to-use ATMs. It said that around 91 percent used a cash machine at least once a month.

New payment options are unveiled and launched all the time, from long-standing cash replacements like Oyster cards in London and PayPal coming up against newer rivals like Square and the (presumably) upcoming Apple Pay — which has already launched in the US.

Undoubtedly the growth of in-app and smartphone based transactions has also made an impact. The BlockChain is another compelling replacement — and one that isn’t so easily tracked. However as the Payments Council report makes clear, people still enjoy exchanging goods and services for small rectangles of cotton-based paper and metal tokens.

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