Britons don't like cash
When Reg Varney used the world's first cash-machine in Enfield, 1967, he was looking to the future of banking. It is clear that Varney was a forward-thinking man in all respects, especially his views on women.
However, Varney's dream of a world of robot dispensers is seemingly dying a slow death in 2014.
You see, Britons are less bothered about physical cash in their hands thanks to the advent of contactless payments, self-service tills and online shopping. If we can help it, we'll shop by talking to no-one and wafting a bit of plastic at it, according to a new study by the British Retail Consortium.
The research showed that debit cards were used in sales for half the value of all retail purchases made in 2013, which is a rise of 11% over the last five years. In that same period, use of cash has fallen by 14%.
The BRC’s Payments Survey looked at 60% of the £191 billion spent down the shops last year. However, customers are more reluctant to buy things on credit cards, saving them for fewer, but bigger purchases. The 18% increase in the average payment cost to retailers hasn't helped either.
BRC's David Lonsdale said the declining influence of cash was “a milestone in the development of our digital economy”, but did point out that cold hard cash was obviously still dominant.
"This is very much in line with the attention customers have paid to price and value during the recent economic uncertainty as they have sought to minimise payments from their budgets for everyday items," said Lonsdale. "The recent pattern of spending on larger but fewer products on credit cards shows that customers are now feeling more confident than they did a year ago and reflects the wider consumer outlook of cautious growth."
BRC director-general Helen Dickinson said she was “really disappointed” by the increased cost to shop owners of allowing their customers to pay by plastic. “Interchange fees cost the retail industry and its customers almost £1 billion in 2013,” she said.
"The much-welcomed European proposals to cap how much banks can charge retailers to process card payments are close to final approval. But in the meantime, we continue to work with the UK Government and Payment System regulator to implement caps on UK fees without further delay, as has happened in other European countries."
We're all using cash now, but it looks like we're embracing new technology and not having rolls of money in our back pockets.