News

UK Consumers take first steps towards "less cash" society

  • Visa Europe’s Contactless Barometer highlights the nation’s changing attitudes to payments 

August 2011 - As Britain’s payment landscape continues to evolve, Visa Europe today released its first Contactless Barometer* to benchmark consumer take-up of new payment methods and highlight Britain’s changing attitudes to the way we pay.  

The research amongst 6,000 European consumers, 1,745 of which were in the UK, showed positive feedback about the contactless technology from those who used the payment system and a hunger for wider availability in mainstream retail outlets.

85% of contactless users in the UK said that they would recommend contactless to their friends and family and 90% of users across Europe think it makes life simpler. 28% of those in Europe who have contactless technology but don’t currently use it said that this was because there aren’t enough retail outlets offering contactless payments and over half in the UK (57%) say they have never been asked to pay with contactless in a shop. More than one in three non users in the UK (37%) cited this as the main barrier preventing them using the technology.

The research shows that consumers are most likely to want to use their contactless cards in fast moving retail outlets where the benefits of the technology (speed and simplicity first and foremost) are most obvious. Fast food restaurants, petrol stations and supermarkets were selected as the venues where consumers are most likely to want to use contactless over chip and pin. The motivation is clear: contactless is most popular for people in a rush (58%), people with a queue behind them (30%) and those in busy places with lots of people (26%) according to users of the technology across Europe.

For Mark Austin, head of contactless at Visa Europe, the research holds a clear call to action: “We’ve developed the Barometer to help us benchmark changes in consumer attitudes and take-up of contactless payments. It’s good to see that users of contactless are satisfied with the technology but it’s also clear that many consumers would like to see it become more widely available across the country.”

Fast food giant McDonalds is one of the latest retailers to get on board with contactless, rolling out the technology across all 1200 UK restaurants in May 2011. There are already around 70,000 contactless acceptance points in the UK and other well-known retailers participating include Subway, Pret A Manger, Caffe Nero, EAT, and selected outlets of Boots, Burger King, Little Chef and Clinton Cards. In addition Co-op (both Food and Pharmacy chains), Wilkinson and Starbucks have already confirmed they will offer contactless soon and further announcements of new acceptance are expected from major high street names later this year.

The Contactless Barometer found that the main benefits to users of contactless technology in Europe are as follows:

The speed in paying via contactless as opposed to cash (56%)

53% like not having to hand their card over to a cashier

55% appreciate not having to carry cash in their wallet / purse

51% like not having to carry loose change

48% like not having to plan to take cash out from an ATM

The contactless barometer also showed some lingering misconceptions about fraud and security. 44% of users expressed concern about security if their card gets stolen, suggesting that issuing banks may need to do more to educate their customers about the security measures in place to protect them.

Austin agrees: “Contactless cards are subject to the same level of consumer protection as all Visa cards, which means that if you are a victim of fraud you can get your money back. The cards also have in-built security functionality which mean they can only be used a certain number of times before a pin is required.”

Austin concludes: “We are now taking the first steps on the road to becoming a ‘less-cash’ society. The Barometer offers a snapshot of changing attitudes towards payment technology and consumer experiences of using it on the high street. The two key takeaways for me are the need for retailers to keep pace with consumer demand and also for our industry to take steps to ensure consumers are reassured about the security measures present in all contactless cards.”

In Europe, there are 430 million Visa debit, credit and commercial cards. In the 12 months ending March 2011 those cards were used to make purchases and cash withdrawals to the value of €1.6 trillion. 12.5% of consumer spending at point of sale in Europe is with a Visa card, and more than 70% of that is on Visa debit cards.  

Visa Europe is owned and operated by more than 4,000 European member banks and was incorporated in July 2004. In October 2007, Visa Europe became independent of the new global Visa Inc., with an exclusive, irrevocable and perpetual licence in Europe. As a dedicated European payment system it is able to respond quickly to the specific market needs of European banks and their customers - cardholders and retailers - and to meet the European Commission’s objective to create a true internal market for payments. 

Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world. In addition, Visa/PLUS is one of the world’s largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in over 200 countries.

For more information, visit http://www.visaeurope.com/