By Paul Skeldon

Better late than never, it has come to pass: we are officially nearly a cashless society. In its latest annual payments survey, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that cards payments now account for more than 50% of payment transactions. This is pretty momentous news – for the first time in history people prefer something other than real money to pay for things.

We have been approaching the cashless society for decades. Ever since the inception of the credit card, it has been mooted that we would soon be done with coins and promisery notes and would be swiping, tapping and, thanks to NFC, wafting our way to payments before 1976 was over.

Well now we have. Forget that ‘cash’ isn’t actually money, but a note telling someone to move money around on a ledger and so is no different to what cards and contactless payments do, this is a monumental shift.

And it has massive implications for retailers. The bulk of these non-cash payments are of course cards, but buried within the details of the BRC report is the fact that contactless cards and contactless mobile payments are helping to drive up this shift from notes to taps.

For retailers this means that investment in contactless card readers is paying off. It also helps save them time – a contactless payment is some 7 seconds quicker than a card payment in the old fashioned way, and so there is a saving there too.

But does it beat cash? On the face of it no. Cash is often…