By Paul Skeldon

For the first time ever, cash payments are now not the most popular way to pay – and that is good news for mobile payments.

In its latest annual payments survey, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that cards payments now account for more than 50% of payment transactions. While the prospect of living in a cashless society has been growing for years, the news marks the first time in history that cash was no longer the most popular method of payment in the UK. The shift has been driven largely by the introduction of contactless card technology.

While the bulk of payments not made with cash are being made with contactless cards, mobile payments are also playing a role in undermining the role of cash.

According to PPRO Group, 38 million transactions were made in 2016 using mobile payments, accounting for £288 million spent using mobile phones, an astonishing 247% increase on the year before. Pubs, bars and restaurants made up for 20% of all mobile payments processed and ‘Meal Deal’ hotspots for workers buying lunch – such as supermarkets and grocery stores – accounted for 54%, further emphasising the decreasing demand for physical cash.

This is backed up by other figures from Barclaycard’s Contactless Spending Index, which suggest that Mobile payments are also catching on rapidly, with the amount spent by users of Barclaycard’s Android Contactless Mobile app jumping by 90% so far in 2017.

Tami Hargreaves, Commercial Director, Digital Consumer Payments at Barclaycard explains: “As we approach the tenth anniversary of ‘touch and go’ payments, it’s interesting to see just how much UK shoppers are valuing the convenience the speed and ease of contactless payments. Uptake and usage of the technology has evolved at a rapid pace, which is supported by our data which shows a significant surge in recent years.

Hargreaves continues: “With Barclaycard data revealing that more than half of eligible in-store card payments are now made using contactless technology and more innovation in the pipeline to enhance the use of mobile and wearable devices, we expect to see contactless spending go from strength to strength for the foreseeable future.”

This shift…