How much do you use cash when you’re out and about? As debit card spending overtakes cash for the first time, it’s looking possible that we might one day live in a society free of notes and coins.
One day, the rattle of change in your pocket might be a distant memory.
Pool tables and vending machines might no longer accept coins – penny pushing arcade machines might shunt their last penny, and beggars won’t bother asking if you’ve got any spare change.
This day might be a long way off yet, but given that data from the UK Payments Council (UKPC) shows debit card spending overtook cash for the first time this year, it’s not inconceivable that notes and coins might eventually lose their value in the eyes of consumers.
Figures show there were 1.6 million more transactions on debit cards every day between July and September compared with the same time last year – a hefty 11% increase.
As UKPC points out, we’ve come to expect debit cards to be accepted everywhere we go – from the high street to the pub. They’re nimbler and sleeker than cash, all is not lost if they’re mislaid and they can be used abroad without the fuss of changing money.
A future without cash
Contactless debit cards promise to make spending an even swifter proposition, with cards simply waved at a payment terminal for transactions under £15 – Café Nero and Subway are among the retailers already supporting the technology.
So what’s the future for cash – a payment method dating back to ancient Greece that has served humankind well for the last two thousand years?
Is it conceivable that one day we might see a world without cumbersome coins or nuisance notes? Certainly it’s not something we should worry about in the short term, but given that cheques are to be phased out in the coming years, might cash be next?