The year 2017 was a seminal one in the UK economy, as this 12-month period saw debit card transactions overtake cash for the very first time. More specifically, consumers used their debit cards an estimated 13.2 billion times in 2017, with this number increasing by 14% year-on-year.
Conversely, the number of cash transactions fell by 15% to 13.1 billion transactions, creating a scenario where cash is no longer king in the UK economy.
Whilst the consumer markets and financial service sectors have undoubtedly seen their preferred payment methods evolve during the digital age, however, the use of cash remains far more prominent in the UK than it does in a few other nations across the globe.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the most cashless countries in the world, whilst asking how long it will be before the UK completely eschews the use of corporeal money.
A Look at the World’s Most Cashless Countries
Interestingly, it’s Canada that leads the way when it comes to cashless society, with the use of debit and credit cards engrained in the national culture.
In fact, it’s estimated that each Canadian citizen currently owns and uses at least two credit cards, whilst the use of mobile payment options has also increased markedly since 2016.
Next up is Sweden, which boasts a progressive society that’s also home to the most cashless economy in the whole of Europe. In fact, 59% of Swedish transactions are completed through non-cash methods, and whilst credit card use is lower here there's no single country in the world that relies less on physical notes and coins.
The UK trails third in this list, despite the seminal role that its technology sector has played in developing mobile payment and digital linking technology.
However, we’ve already seen that card payments are now more dominant than traditional cash, whilst it’s also interesting to note that an estimated 47% frequently use payment options on the smartphone.
What’s Next for the UK – Will we Really Reach a Cashless Society?
Nations like France and the U.S. are also blazing a trail in the relation to cashless payment models, and there’s no doubt that the so-called ‘war on cash’ is now a real and tangible conflict.
After all, earlier this year we saw Facebook launch its own digital currency called Libra, in conjunction with several leading banks and ecommerce ventures.
Unlike the decentralised digital currencies that came before it, Libra was tied to national fiat currencies, creating a secure and less volatile entity that could be integrated into the global financial system and centrally managed.
The reason for this is simple; as Libra is a prototype currency that will help central banks to achieve their ultimate aim of transitioning towards a cashless society.
This is a prevalent objective across all developed economies in the UK, as banks look to reduce their operating costs, optimise fiscal privacy and avoid any future scenarios where the value of currency can fluctuate in line with commodities.
With the banks driving this shift, there’s every chance that the UK and similar societies could be completely