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No time for change: half of us believe cash will become extinct


Over one in eight of us don’t carry cash and half of us believe coins and notes will become obsolete in the future, according to research from Barclaycard and Barclays.[1]

[1] 2000 consumers polled in June 2011 by Populus; research commissioned by Barclays and Barclaycard

The research finds that the average British purse or wallet contains just £23 and the majority of us (57 per cent) refuse to carry around one or two penny coins. Half of us (50 per cent) give away small change in some form – either to charity, to children, or simply by throwing it in the bin.

Two thirds of people find carrying cash inconvenient with the top reasons for avoiding cash including the nuisance of receiving a pile of coins back in change, the weight of coins, and the amount of space cash takes up. A tenth (9 per cent) of people find the impact on the line of their clothes a drawback to carrying cash – and this is significantly higher among men (15 per cent) compared with women (3 per cent).

In contrast, a third (32 per cent) of consumers prefers to pay by card because it means they never have to worry about carrying cash. Additionally, 17 per cent of people cite the ability to keep track of spending as a benefit of paying by card. New technologies, such as contactless payments, are making paying by card easier, encouraging many shoppers to replace cash for small purchases.

Dan Wass, Head of Current Accounts and Contactless at Barclays, comments on the findings:

“Although we are far from becoming a ‘cashless society’, it’s clear from our research that cash is no longer king. Consumers are increasingly less willing to carry large amounts of change around with them and many believe that coins will become obsolete in the future. It is clear that shoppers are now looking for alternative methods of payment – such as contactless – which will allow them to avoid spending time fumbling for change in a queue and will take up less space in their wallet.”

The research also reveals that 41 per cent of shoppers have walked away from a small value purchase in the past because they didn’t have enough cash on them. This was noticeably higher among younger people - 51 per cent of 18-24 year olds admitted to this, compared to 18 per cent of those aged over 65.

A fifth of shoppers report that they will avoid paying for things by cash in order to better manage their spending (through a credit card bill or bank statement). Almost three in ten (29 per cent) are put off paying by cash because of not having the right change or because of reluctance to break a larger note.

Richard Armstrong, Head UK Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard adds:

“For retailers, there is a real opportunity to seize the benefits that accepting card payments brings – especially new innovations such as contactless. Large and small retailers alike can take hold of the opportunity to adapt to consumer preference towards cards. Over two-fifths (42 percent) of respondents from our research claimed that corner shops and independent retailers were the most reluctant types of outlets to allow card payments, and an increasing number of consumers are turning to cards as a way to manage their spending and avoid the burden of cash.”

Shoppers are also revealed to have a greater understanding of other methods of payment that will save them time and avoid having to carry cash, such as contactless. Almost half of consumers (44%) now recognise the contactless logo at the point of sale, while at the same time in 2010, only a quarter (28%) of people were able to identify it.[1]

There is a similar improvement in awareness of what contactless enables, with 62% aware cards in general are capable of this, compared to only 45% this time last year.

Shoppers are still being held back from using contactless due to worries over security and exactly how the technology works – something that Barclays and Barclaycard are addressing through ongoing work with retailers and consumers. A contactless card can only be used for contactless payments a certain number of times before a customer is prompted for their PIN. What’s more, in the unlikely event of fraud, contactless debit and credit transactions benefit from the same 100% fraud guarantee as standard transactions.

[1] 2000 consumers polled in June 2010 by Populus; research commissioned by Barclays and Barclaycard:

Notes to Editors:

About contactless

Contactless payment enables customers to make a purchase of £15 or less without the need to sign or enter a pin. Barclays and Barclaycard are leading the way in introducing contactless and there are now over 11.4 million contactless-enabled Barclaycards and Barclays debit cards, helping retailers reduce queuing and cut the cost of card transactions. In line with its history of providing customers with innovative payment forms, Barclaycard also intends to make payments by mobile phone available to the mass market by 2012.

Barclays and Barclaycard are the leading providers of Contactless terminals, providing them for around 50,000 outlets in the UK, including Prêt A Manger, Subway, Starbucks and EAT.

To find out more about Contactless payment, visit or

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Retail and Business Banking, is a leading global payment business which helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and accept payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit when needed.

The company is one of the pioneers of new forms of payments and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting edge forms of payment for the future. It also issues credit and charge cards to corporate customers and the UK Government. Barclaycard partners with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

In addition to the UK, Barclaycard operates in the United States, Europe and Africa.

Key facts published in August 2011;

- number of UK customers: 12.0m

- number of International customers: 10.2m

- number of retailer/merchant relationships: 90,000


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