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Cash use drops to lowest ever level

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: June 02, 2014

By Ruth Dawson / ruth.dawson@swwmedia.co.uk / @Ruth_Dawson

Cash purchases fell by 14 per cent in 2013.

Cash purchases fell by 14 per cent in 2013.

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The penny has dropped with shoppers, as a new survey has found that consumers are using paper money and coins less than ever before.

The fall in cash purchases has been put down to online sales and the rise in contactless cards, and an 11 per cent rise in debit card use. Last year, cash accounted for 53 per cent of transactions, a 14 per cent decline compared to 2012.

The British Retail Consortium research has, however, found that cash has stayed the most popular way to pay when looking at the overall number of transactions: cards accounted for a higher proportion of all sales – around 50 per cent - when looking at the value of transactions.

"Customers are taking advantage of new ways to shop and pay," Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC said.

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"The availability of contactless cards, handy express stores and self-service tills as well as online sales has increased the use of debit cards for smaller payments in place of cash.

"Cash use down 14 per cent in the last five years is a milestone in the development of our digital economy".

The survey also found that banks are still levying charged deemed “unjustifiably” high on shop keepers who accept cards for payment.

A debit card payment, for example, costs a retailer an average of 8.8 pence to process – up 4 per cent on 2012. A credit or charge card payment, meanwhile, can cost 41 pence to process.

"It is really disappointing that the average cost of accepting both credit and debit cards have increased over five years, while cash costs have gone down," Ms Dickinson noted.

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