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UK Consumers Expect to Pay with Plastic for the Long Term

Cash and cards still preferred by UK shoppers

May 14, 2014 | Retail & Ecommerce | SMB

In the UK, there is reasonably good awareness of mobile payments, but just few desire to actually use them.

Internet Users in the US and Select Countries in Western Europe Who Use Their Mobile Phone to Pay for Products/Services*, 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

According to data released in February 2014 by business consulting firm Bain & Company, 55% of UK internet users knew of mobile payments, but only 3% actually used their mobile phones to pay for transportation or goods in-store. Digital currency, meanwhile, continued to be viewed with a good deal of suspicion.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the majority of UK shoppers still expect to be using cash and credit cards well into the foreseeable future.

Payment Method Predictions for 2025 According to UK Internet Users, Feb 2014 (% of respondents)

A February 2014 study from payment solution provider Sage Pay found that 86% of UK internet users still expected to be carrying credit and debit cards in 2025, while 76% said they’d be lugging a physical wallet. Only 16% believed bank notes would have died out.

And while consumers in the UK remain somewhat reluctant to commit to alternative ways of paying for goods, there’s little impetus on businesses to provide them as options.

Factors that Would Encourage UK SMB Decision-Makers to Consider Different Payment Mechanisms, Feb 2014 (% of respondents)

Sage Pay also asked decision-makers at small and medium-sized businesses in the UK what would encourage them to consider different payment mechanisms. Far and away the most popular response was customer demand, with 80% of respondents citing this as a factor.

But with customer demand still low, this space seems to be stalled. However, one alternative payment method that UK internet users thought might gain some traction by 2025 was fingerprint recognition—47% thought they could be using it by that point in time. Perhaps this stalled market has a chance of being kick-started after all.

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