Tap and go. That’s the new norm for more and more consumers, reflected in the 2017 milestone of debit card use overtaking the number of payments in the UK for the first time.
As trouser pockets and purses become less weighed down by smash and small change, consumers expect fast, efficient transactions that allow them to get what they need, with the minus of faff and fuss.
Cashless bars and cafes, recently a novelty even in the fast cash confines of The City, are now mopping up across the UK, with owners and operating extolling the speed of service, lack of cashing up at the end of the day and lower insurance premiums alongside lessened security issues.
The trend towards a cashless society (current rates of decline suggest an end to cash use in the UK by 2026) does of course pose challenges for certain demographics. Rural communities affected by poor broadband or mobile connectivity continue to have a strong reliance on banknotes and coins, with older consumers and lower income groups also at risk of being alienated by a totally cashless existence.
While government may have to step in with legislation and innovative practices to support such groups, the trend for society at large is clear: cash is no longer king. Paying for a round of drinks or a train ticket with your smartphone no longer feels strange and the rise of wearable tech such as Apple watches is sure to continue.
While we enjoy this fast and efficient means of doing business, perhaps can also take a moment to be thankful that it didn’t occur before the Home Alone movie script was written, and we can continue to enjoy Macauley Culkin mime that immortal line: Keep the change ya filthy animal…