UK 4th most cashless country in Europe

The UK is the fourth most cashless country in Europe according to research by personal finance website money.co.uk.

The different European countries were evaluated according to the percentage of the population aged over 15 with a credit card or debit card, the number of cash machines available per 100,000 adults, the contactless payment limit, and the number of major e-wallet operators available.

Norway, Switzerland, and Finland all beat out the UK, but Britain came out ahead of Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and the Republic of Ireland.

Norway claimed the top spot in Europe, with the lowest number of cash machines per 100,000 adults in Europe - 31.58 – and with 83 per cent of the population aged over 15 owning a credit card according to statistics by the WorldBank.

The WorldBank statistics said 91 per cent of Brits aged over 15 own a debit card and 65 per cent aged over 15 own a credit card.

Canada is the world’s most cashless economy according to the money.co.uk research.

The WorldBank data showed 83 per cent of the Canadian population aged over 15 own a credit card - the highest number in the world.

Canada also has the highest contactless payment limit in the world at C$250 - £147 – with contactless limits worldwide ranging from £3 and £5 in Malawi and Ghana respectively to £130 in Japan.

Hong Kong takes second place on the cashless list, with the latest figures showing that 4 in 5 - 83 per cent - of Hong Kong’s citizens aged over 15 own a debit card.

Cash use was rapidly declining in the United Kingdom even before the pandemic.

The use of cash has fallen 54 per cent in the UK during the past ten years according to figures from UK Finance, falling from 58 per cent of payments in 2010 to just 23 per cent in 2020.

“Even prior to the coronavirus pandemic, we were beginning to see a global shift away from paper money towards electronic payments,” said James Andrews, senior personal finance expert at money.co.uk. “However, the Coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated this.”

“In the past 12 months, we’ve witnessed more than 40 countries increase the limits for contactless payments and in the UK the government has placed emphasis on using contactless methods of payment where possible. The move away from banknotes and coins towards plastic payments and e-wallets presents many advantages. Cashless payments will allow for quick and easy transactions when international travel fully resumes, and the creation of digital paper trails could help reduce tax fraud and money laundering.”

He added: “From the retailers’ side, it means less time spent sorting out a float at the start of the day, quicker transactions and fewer trips to deposit takings in the bank - as well as less risk from theft.”

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