Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Payment by plastic set to rise despite new technology

Credit and debit card spending will almost double over the next decade as people increasingly rely on plastic as a convenient way to pay, an industry report predicts.

But trade body UK Cards Association (UKCA) said it is also possible to see the "end of the road" for plastic as other methods such as mobile phone payments gain more popularity.

Total spending on cards in the UK is set to soar from 9.9bn payments worth £477bn last year to 17.3bn payments with a value of £840bn in 2022, according to the trade body's forecasts.

The association said that in coming years, most growth will come from debit cards, first introduced 26 years ago.

Nine in 10 (91%) UK adults have a debit card in their wallet or purse, equating to almost 47m debit card holders across the country. The number of debit card holders grew by around 1m compared with 2011, in line with growth seen over the last decade.

Innovations in technology which make card use more convenient will drive the upswing, helped by younger people who have grown up with cards it said.

This includes the expansion of 'tap and go' contactless payment technology for low-value items where people have traditionally used cash.

Contactless payments allow people to pay for goods worth £20 or less with a single swipe of their card on a reader, without the need for a pin number.

The number of debit and credit cards enabled to make contactless payments grew by 38% in 2012 to reach an estimated 31m and major chains such as Superdrug, WH Smith, Marks & Spencer and Greggs as well as the Post Office now accept contactless payments.

By March this year, around 120 contactless transactions were being made per minute. This figure is predicted to rise to 300 transactions a minute by the end of 2013.

The growth in online spending is also boosting card use, with total online card spending increasing by £5bn in 2012, the UK Plastic Cards report said.

Online debit card spending has now overtaken online credit card spending, with debit card spending totalling £35bn last year, compared with £34bn placed on credit cards.

Despite the predicted growth for plastic, the report said that the "end of the road" could be on the horizon as other ways to pay, such as mobile phones, take over.

17.3bn

Total number of card payments by 2022