Apacs marks 20 years of the debit card

Source: Apacs

To mark the 20th anniversary of the debit card in the UK this weekend (3 June 2007) Apacs, the UK payments association, has launched its report, '20 Years of the Debit Card', reflecting on its history.

Since its introduction by Barclays in 1987, the debit card has transformed the way we pay:
  • There are 41 million debit card holders in the UK today (84 per cent of the adult population) compared with 27.8 million in 1996;
  • There are 68 million debit cards in circulation today, compared with just 19 million debit cards in 1990, three years after their launch;
  • Britons made 4.5 billion purchases in 2006 - the equivalent of 143 purchases every second - and spent £194.9 billion on their debit cards, five times the amount we spent in 1996;
  • In 2006, each of us with a debit card used it 166 times on average - making £4,799 worth of purchases and acquiring £3,848 in cash;
  • In 1987 only 38 per cent of UK adults had a plastic card - and this would have been a credit card. Today, 84 per cent (41 million) of UK adults have a debit card;
  • By 2016, spending on debit cards will have doubled to over £400 billion. We'll have new technologies like contactless payments, and APACS predicts that by 2011 personal spending on debit cards will have overtaken cash.

Jemma Smith, Head of PR at APACS, said:

"It's hard now for most of us to remember what life was like before the debit card, as it's become one of those things we're unlikely to leave home without. Before 1987, most of us were totally reliant on cash or cheques, and although credit cards were used in supermarkets at that time, they only made up 6% of transactions. Today, cards account for 66% of supermarket spending, and most of this is on debit cards. In fact, over a third of all debit card transactions are made at the checkout.

"Over the next ten years we are likely to see more significant changes as new technologies are added to our debit card. The first definite change is the introduction of contactless technology to our cards starting later this year in London: this is likely to result in us using cash far less. However, within a decade it's very likely we'll see other changes; card and mobile technologies will probably be combining in some shape or form, though it still seems unlikely that this will mean we will stop carrying cards. And in the future, who knows - there's a possibility we may even see biometric technologies like voice recognition."

The '20 Years of the Debit Card' report is freely available for download from the Apacs Web site.

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