Almost half (48%) of adults in the UK used mobile banking in 2018, up from 41% in the previous year, while 5.4 million consumers chose not to use cash at all, a new industry report has revealed.

UK Finance, the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, said that online or mobile banking accounted for two billion bank payments last year, up from 1.6 billion in 2017.

And one in six UK adults (16%), or around 8.5 million people, are now registered for mobile payment services, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, representing an eightfold increase since as recently as 2016.

“Just as digital technology has allowed people to customise the way they listen to music or read the news, it is now transforming the world of payments, as consumers take advantage of the ever-widening range of payment choices available to suit their needs and lifestyle,” the report said.

Overall, 39.3 billion payments were made in the UK in 2018, with 85% of the total going on spontaneous purchases and the remaining 15% allocated for regular bills and other commitments.

The UK Payment Markets report also revealed that debit cards were the most frequently used payment method last year, having overtaken cash in 2017, and accounted for nearly 40% of all payments.

It won’t come as a surprise that younger consumers have embraced the convenience of debit cards and contactless payments, but interestingly UK Finance reported that the growing trend also appeals to older consumers.

Around three-fifths (61%) of consumers aged over 65 made contactless payments last year, up from 50% in 2017, and that compares to 69% of all age groups in the UK.

Cash, the second most frequently used payment method, was used in 28% of payments in 2018, but overall cash payments fell by 16% and are expected to decline further to just 10% of all payments in the next ten years.

“More and more customers are now opting for the speed and convenience of paying with their contactless cards or using mobile banking to check their balances and make transfers while on the move,” said Stephen Jones, chief executive of UK Finance.

“This rapid rate of technological change is set to continue over the coming decade, as people embrace the ever-widening number of ways to pay and manage their finances, depending on their needs and lifestyle,” he added.

Sourced from UK Finance; additional content by WARC staff