UK tops EU list for cashless payments

Card payments have surpassed cash transactions for the first time in the UK – a reflection of the country’s top place on the EU list for cashless payments. £81.3trn cashless payments were generated in the UK for the year ending 2016, according to a report by Expert Market.

The report examined the number of cashless transactions, and total revenue from digital payments, for each EU country. Germany ranked second on the list, with a total of £48.7trn cashless transactions.

“For most countries, the march of cashless is inevitable, but the winners in the next few years will be the countries that can equip older sectors with cashless capabilities,” said Jared Keleher, lead researcher and editor at Expert Market.

The report was conducted by Expert Market, a leading B2B comparison site for payment systems, to understand which countries in the EU are reaping the financial benefits from digital payments.

In 2014, 80% of transactions in Germany were conducted in cash. However, the introduction of card payments in Berlin taxis in 2015 has brought about a contactless revolution.

Malta falling behind

Malta, with only £89m cashless payments, was at the bottom of the list. To compare, the UK took 535 times more cashless transactions.

The report states that the reluctance to move to cashless payments may be linked to ‘hidden economies’ which rely on untraceable cash for tax evasion. Regardless, the lack of demand for cashless payments provides difficult conditions for businesses looking to move into digital sales.

“What our research shows is that there is huge opportunity for small businesses in southern Europe where cash is still the preferred method of payment right now but there’s no doubt that attitudes towards alternative digital technologies have and will continue to change.

“Just look at Asia, where the majority of countries have traditionally always been heavily reliant on cash. Over the past decade, lots of these countries have consciously chosen to skip contactless altogether, which has prompted a huge growth in mobile wallets and eMoney transactions. Merchants in these countries have embraced technology and now made it easier than ever before to grow their customer base.”

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