Interesting figures abound in the UK payments market.
For example, there were around 14 Billion Debit Card transactions in 2015, as against an estimated 11 Billion cash payments.
Then again, 3 Billion of the Debit Card transactions were actually made to withdraw cash from ATMs, so they were not payments at all. In reality, therefore, cash was as popular as Debit Cards for payments in 2015, even though the number of Debit Card transactions was actually 9% ahead of the previous year.
The sustained popularity of cash is demonstrated by the fact that, in the same year as Debit Card transactions increased by 9%, the total value of cash withdrawn from ATMs in the UK by domestic customers was down by only 0.1% from 2014 levels.
With the Bank of England reporting, as every year, an increase in the value of bank notes in circulation in the UK, it is clear that cash retains a huge popularity amongst the British public, both as a means of purchase and a store of value.
Indeed, in some retail sectors, the sustained refusal of customers to move away from cash, despite massive publicity campaigns by card and mobile payment providers, is nothing short of remarkable.
For example, in the year to April 2016, the UK Association of Convenience Stores reported that 79% of ALL payments in their 50,000 member stores were made using cash. Yes. Almost 4 out of 5.
So in Convenience Stores, after half a century of multi-million £ marketing spend by Card Schemes and, in the last 10 years, a massive publicity campaign to popularise “Contactless”, the competitors to cash have only chalked up a 21% market share.
The majority of Convenience Store customers in the UK live within walking distance of their local stores. They stroll down to use their cash in shops that have a vital role in ensuring the continued vibrancy of the communities they serve.
Many Convenience Stores have Free-To-Use ATMs,with each one on average dispensing around £3 Million annually. Most of that cash is spent locally, ensuring that neighbourhood businesses and the employment associated with them continue to prosper.
It is a healthy Life-Style Choice to walk down to your local Convenience Store to do your shopping – and nearly 4 out of 5 shoppers seem to believe it is a equally healthy Payment Choice to use cash for their purchases.
Who are we to argue with them?