Debit cards to overtake cash within the next year
Debit cards are set to overtake cash to be the UK's most frequently used payment method by 2018, according to a payments industry trade association.
Rapid growth in the use of contactless cards means that cash will no longer be king as the payment method turned to most often, forecasts by Payments UK show.
In May 2016, the payments body predicted the tipping point in the nation's payment habits would happen in 2021 - but now it expects this to happen three years earlier.
Its figures show that debit cards were used 11.6 billion times in 2016 - and just over one in five of these transactions was contactless. Cash was used for 15.4 billion payments last year. Two-fifths of payments in 2016 were made using cash.
By 2018, 13.4 billion debit card payments are predicted - of which around one in three is expected to be contactless.
Cash is expected to be used for 13.3 billion payments in 2018 - meaning that for the first time it will not be the most frequently used payment method.
Adrian Buckle, chief economist at Payments UK, said: "The popularity of contactless means that we expect debit cards to overtake cash as the UK's most frequently used payment method in late 2018, three years earlier than we previously thought.
"This is a significant shift, but it's vital to note that, even in the face of this change, we believe any claims the UK will soon become a cashless society are wide of the mark."
Despite the move, cash is still due to make up around a fifth of payments in 10 years' time.