Check your wallet: Brits carry less than £5 in cash in their wallets

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Britons are now carrying less than £5 in their wallets as newer payment methods such as contactless cards and smartphones become more and more popular, new research finds.

The study, conducted by Mastercard, said that nearly half of Britons (47%) typically have less than a fiver on them. It also said that two in five people (43%) say they keep less hard cash in their pockets than they did two years ago.

At the same time, the number of card transactions has jumped by nearly 10% each year since 2013, totalling 17 billion transactions in the UK last year.

One in ten people have actually stopped carrying wallets or purses on them, instead electing to just take a payment card. A further quarter of people (24%) is actually keen to follow suit.

MasterCard says this trend is in no way surprising given that wallets and purses are filled on average with a staggering 44 items, apart from cash. Half of that actually goes unused or is actually out of date. Carrying just a card or a smartphone then becomes not just about payment convenience but also about everyday practicality of shedding a bulky wallet full of things you don’t use.

The study found that men were worse than women when it came to hoarding everything in their wallets. Twenty percent of people actually go a year or more without emptying or updating the contents of their wallets, with a quarter of men revealing that they wait for more than year before clearing out their wallet, compared to just one in ten women.

The most common amount was found to be between £1 and £5, with a third of people (33%) falling into this category. This rises to 44% among those aged 25 to 34. More than one in 10 people (14%) have no cash at all in their wallet or purse. The second most common amount is £6 to £10, accounting for 16% of Britons, the study shows. Only 7% of people keep more than £50 in cash on them.

“We’re in the midst of a period of unprecedented change for payments,” said Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard UK and Ireland.

“Cash usage is being buffeted by the dual forces of increased online expenditure and consumers embracing the convenience, speed and security of card and digital payments. This trend is also reducing the amount of cash businesses need to handle and process, which is time consuming and an often overlooked cost.”

One in five people believe that cash will stop being used in the near future due to the rise of new payment technologies such as contactless cards and contactless mobile devices. Among those aged 25-34 this belief rises to a third (32%).

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