More than half of all payments in the UK were made by card last year as cash usage fell sharply, industry figures show.
In recent months the UK has seen a surge in card, and specifically contactless, payments in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, ATM usage has plummeted.
However, UK Finance figures show that this is has simply been an acceleration of a longer trend. Last year, debit cards were used for 17 billion payments, of which seven billion were contactless. The use of credit cards also rose during 2019, up by seven per cent to 3.3 billion payments, with 1.3 billion contactless.
Meanwhile, cash payments continued to decline, falling by 15% to 9.3 billion, although cash was still the second most popular payment method in the UK after debit card.
UK Finance says that changing retail trends, including the ever-increasing use of online shopping have been a factor in both the declining use of cash and increasing use of card payments.
In addition, consumer preferences are changing: the number of people who were not using cash or using it just once a month has more than doubled in two years, from 3.4 million in 2017 to 7.4 million in 2019. Young people are leading the way in this respect, although seven per cent of people aged 65 or older were using cash once a month or less frequently during 2019.
When it comes to banking, over four-fifths of adults used either online, mobile or telephone banking in 2019, compared to three-fifths in 2009.
Stephen Jones, CEO, UK Finance, says: "An increase in ways to pay coupled with the change in people’s payment habits may have inadvertently gone some way to prepare the nation for the impact of Covid-19 on their daily lives.
"With consumers already using contactless payments and remote banking more than in previous years, these technological advances have allowed many people to shop and make payments safely from home or in store.
"The impact of Covid-19 may accelerate these habits for many customers; however, we are fully aware that not all customers are digitally-enabled which is why we are working flat out to ensure people have access to cash and everyday banking services remain available to help the country through these difficult times."