Spending on plastic trebles

The total value of plastic card payments received by UK merchants, retailers and service providers has more than trebled in the last 10 years, according to a report by APACS, the UK payments association.

The Way We Pay 2007: UK Plastic Cards reveals that in 2006 payments using plastic were made to UK merchants, retailers and service providers totalling £321 billion, compared to £87 billion in 1996. Debit cards accounted for 61 per cent of the total spent and credit cards 39 per cent. In 2005 cards exceeded cash in all retail spending for the first time and the gap between cards and cash accelerated in 2006 with cash spending of £274 billion.

The figure spent on cards equates to just under one third of total consumer spending in the UK, with the remaining £710 billion being made up of cash, automated payments and cheques.

Says Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS: “The last 10 years have seen a rapid rise in the popularity of plastic, with debit cards showing particularly strong growth. Consumers enjoy the ease and convenience plastic cards bring and today most retailers and supermarkets take plastic, as do an increasing number of professional service providers.

“Over the next 10 years it is expected that spending on plastic cards will continue to dominate the payments arena, accounting for 89 per cent of growth in UK payment volumes by 2016.”

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