Young Adults Say No to Cash

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A tenth of young adults almost exclusively use card and digital payments over cash a study from UK Finance, the financial providers’ trade body, has shown.

The report showed that more than one in 10 young adults, those aged between 25-34, use notes and coins just once a month. The result, according to UK Finance, is that the number of those who now rarely use cash in the UK sits at approximately three million people.

This latest study also revealed generational gaps in cash usage – when looking at those who spent cash no more than once in a month, just 6% of the UK adult population as a whole were living a cashless life. Unsurprisingly, this figure plummets to 2% for those between the ages of 55 and 64; it jumps to 10% for young adults.

Those figures for the cashless are almost precisely mirrored by those who do not choose card or digital payments. According to UK Finance, 2.7 million people, or 5%, are still reliant almost entirely on cash. And while that figure is more or less the same for all ages, the report does highlight a class distinction, with UK Finance stating that lower income households – those with a total combined income below £15,000 – were more likely to be cash-reliant compared to those on higher incomes.

The new study follows a flurry of activity in the cash wars: Visa has already piloted a scheme in the US that incentivises businesses to only accept card payments, and signalled their interest in piloting a similar incentivisation programme in the UK in an attempt to turn the country cashless. Meanwhile, companies like Paypal, Facebook and Google have all introduced digital payment methods in an effort to wean us off our reliance on cold, hard cash.

But, despite a serious growth in online shopping and banking, it seems we’re still attached to our cash. Indeed, 94% of UK adults still use cash machines – proving that while it may be quicker and easier to use a contactless card or pay a bill over Facebook, UK households would much rather have the readies in our wallets and purses.

Just last week, the AA reported that drivers shun ‘pay by phone’ parking meters in favour of hunting around for change; eight out of 10 said they’d drive on and looking for a cash-based parking zone, rather than whip out their phone to buy a parking ticket digitally.

So, while cash isn’t exactly disappearing off our streets, the UK Finance study does point to a growing cashless trend. Expect more youngsters to opt for cash alternatives, as the process is further normalised and strengthened by the convenience of online or digital transactions.

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