According to new research from MasterCard Europe, half of debit card-holding consumers surveyed (52%) believe that Europe will be virtually cash free within 10 years.
The survey of 3000 debit cardholders was conducted during January 2006 by KRC Research, in the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Poland.
Eric Tomlinson, senior vice president, debit centre of excellence, MasterCard Europe, comments: "While it's clear that the majority of European consumers surveyed are embracing debit and accept that the decline of cash is inevitable, our research also shows that eight out of 10 still carry up to €50 in their wallets on an average day. Cash remains the fall back position for too many of the Europeans we surveyed."
MasterCard yesterday announced a pilot scheme with Royal Bank of Scotland to test a contactless debit card for payments below EUR15.
The card scheme says that 63% of those surveyed by KRC liked the idea of a 'tap and go' contactless functionality.
The research also shows that 94% of European consumers surveyed had a positive reaction towards being able to use their debit card anywhere in Europe for ATM withdrawals and in stores for shopping. Eighty per cent cited this cross-border functionality as a key driver for increasing usage.
"Our research yet again underlines the fact that European consumers surveyed are ready and willing to use their cards abroad," says Tomlinson. "It’s time to move from debate to action and make the Single European Payments Area (Sepa) a reality."
He says MasterCard is working closely with regulators and the banking industry to deliver a framework for Sepa compliance which is intended to bring a consistent payment experience to European consumers.
The card association has outlined its own pricing programme for Sepa, with plans to introduce a single, harmonised and transparent set of prices for both intra-Sepa and national transactions with effect from 1 January 2007. MasterCard has also flagged the introduction from January 2008 of a single Sepa interchange structure that will apply to all cross-border debit transactions in the euro zone.