17 million UK workers* frustrated by cash payments

UK Working Day Spend Report finds workers are frustrated with having to use cash for everyday purchases it's hard to get hold of and all too easy to spend

LONDON, 23 June 2014 – 17 million UK workers are frustrated by the inconvenience of cash payments according to the Working Day Spend Report, released today by Visa Europe. With 23% being regularly caught out by not having enough cash on them to make a particular payment and 30% having to ask a taxi to deviate from its journey in order to stop at a cash machine, workers regularly find paying with cash a nuisance.

Although cash usage has dropped overall in the last five years and cards are widely accepted, Brits still rely on cash for smaller payments. That's despite nearly half (46%) admitting they are quick to spend the cash they have in their wallet, leading to two thirds (66%) withdrawing cash at least once a week. The report also reviewed what UK workers spend their money on, how much they spend and what payment methods they use. Brits spend an average of £10.59 on small and regular purchases throughout the day, the equivalent of £2,541.60 every year. One third of respondents admitted that they do not budget for this everyday expenditure.

"I think a lot of people still use cash for certain purchases out of habit, even though they find it annoying," says Sandra Alzetta, Executive Director at Visa Europe. "Paying with a contactless card is faster and safer than fiddling around with coins and carrying a wad of cash, and it makes it much easier to manage your money. Every transaction appears on your statement, so you can stop asking yourself where that last twenty pounds went – the answer's right there."

The research also found that the way workers spend varies across the UK. London workers use cash the least with just over half (55%) using it to buy lunch, showing that faster payment methods are being embraced more quickly in the capital. In contrast 81% of Glasgow workers use cash to buy lunch, leading to over half (55%) often getting frustrated by having to wait to pay in store. Manchester workers struggled worst with cash machines with 40% noting it was a challenge to find a cash machine nearby and nearly a third (32%) finding having to queue for a cash machine a frustration.

"There's no need for people to be frustrated by cash," adds Alzetta. "You can already make contactless payments at more than 300,000 places in the UK – not just in retailers but also on London buses and taxis. That means workers don't have to worry about being caught out without cash any longer."

The average UK worker currently

  • Spends £3.69 on lunch, £2.09 on hot drinks and £7.09 on food and drink for later that evening, using a variety of payment methods
  • Uses cash to pay for hot drinks on the go but prefers a debit card for buying food and drink for later in the evening
  • Withdraws cash at least once a week
  • Carries less than £25 in their wallet at one time
  • Spends 25 minutes waiting to pay for goods or services every week

Why switch to contactless?

  • Using a contactless card is the fast and convenient way to pay for everyday purchases that are under £20
  • 1 in 4 people in the UK already have a contactless card
  • There are now over 300,000 terminals accepting contactless payments in the UK
  • You can pay with contactless cards in retailers including Boots, Tesco, McDonalds, Costa Coffee, Waitrose and Greggs
  • Workers can also pay for their commute with taxis and London buses all accepting contactless and TfL plans to roll out contactless across the rest of their transport network later this year
  • More than £700 million was spent on contactless cards in the 12 months to February 2014 in the UK
  • Over 100 million contactless purchases were made in the 12 months to February 2014 in the UK

Note to editors:

Results are based on an online survey carried out by research agency Loudhouse. 2155 UK commuters (aged 18 or over) who work full or part time and travel to work at least once a week were surveyed during April 2014.

*Statistic based on 30.19 million UK workers as stated by ONS data – Labour Market Statistics March 2014.

Visa contactless payments are very secure and certainly much more secure than carrying cash. Visa contactless cards use the same secure technology as Chip and PIN and have a maximum purchase amount of £20 per transaction. From time to time, cardholders are asked to enter their PIN to verify they are the genuine cardholder. Importantly, cardholders benefit from Visa's promise that if a Visa card is lost or stolen, they are protected against fraud loss – providing they take reasonable precautions to protect their card and let their bank know as soon as they realise it's gone.