At 11:15am today the Duke of Uke in London became part of history as it switched on Britain's one millionth point-of-sale (POS) terminal to accept plastic card transactions. This latest milestone comes less than twenty months after APACS, the UK payments association, announced that spending on plastic has overtaken cash for the first time ever.
The speed and convenience of making payments on plastic, together with the ease of chip and PIN, means people are more willing to use plastic cards for the purchase of everyday goods and services. According to figures published by APACS, the number of POS terminals in the UK has increased by more than 36 per cent since December 2000 to the one million that we see in Britain today.
As a nation plastic cards are integral to the way we pay and we are accustomed to seeing POS terminals on the high street. In addition, we are now able to pay by plastic in less traditional outlets such as fast food restaurants and taxis, as more and more retailers are accepting card payments. Since 1995 the number of outlets accepting plastic cards has increased by over 50 per cent.
Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, says:
Today marks a significant milestone for the UK payments industry. More and more retailers are realising the benefits of providing their customers with the option to pay by card. Similarly, the speed, convenience and enhanced security of plastic means people are far more willing to use plastic. As a result we have noticed a significant increase in the number of non-traditional outlets accepting cards, as is evidenced by the installation of Britain's millionth POS terminal at the Duke of Uke today.
To coincide with this milestone, APACS has developed a comprehensive consumer advice guide (The Card Transaction Process) that provides a step-by-step explanation of the card payment process. Available from www.choosingandusing.com/downloads/transaction.pdf the guide details the flow of funds, from the moment a consumer uses their card to make a payment to the moment the money is credited to the retailer's bank account.
The year-on-year increase in the number of card transactions reflects this change in consumers' behaviour. According to APACS, there were 6.0 billion plastic card transactions in the UK in 2005 - a seven per cent increase from the previous year.
Sandra Quinn of APACS says:
Paying by plastic is now part of everyday life. When the first plastic cards appeared in Britain in June 1966, only a handful of retailers accepted them, typically a paper-based system using so-called zip-zap machines. In less than 40 years, plastic has become our most popular way to pay in ever-more varied locations.
Matthew Reynolds owner of the Duke of Uke says:
The move to allow our customers the option to pay by card is an important development. Today, most customers expect to be able to pay by card; cards are an integral part of the way we pay for goods and services. The chip and PIN electronic payments system which we have introduced at the Duke of Uke will allow for greater customer convenience and will help in the fight against plastic card fraud.
Ron Kalifa, Managing Director at RBS Retailer Card Services says:
We are delighted to enable the Duke of Uke to take card payments and install the millionth POS terminal. As well as growth in traditional POS terminals we are seeing an increasing demand for remote and mobile terminal capability giving ever-increasing convenience and security for merchants and consumers.
Today there are more than 140 million plastic cards in use in the UK, with almost 68 per cent of spending accounted for by debit cards. This year, total plastic card use is expected to top £320 billion, against a predicted £277 billion of cash payments.