‘Pennies and checks will be gone in 10 years’ -British survey

8/28/13. ‘Pennies and checks will be gone in 10 years’. Sophie Christie, Telegraph.co.uk

“Coins and cheques will be dead in a decade, a survey suggests. Three in four people said they were “certain” that pennies and cheque books would be consigned to history by 2023.

The negative response is a crucial marker in the battle to modernise Britain’s money system. Banks are desperate to get rid of cheques, which are expensive to run, and move towards technology which is cheaper to service, such as “contactless” touch and go card payments and mobile phone banking.

Industry body the Payments Council has so far been held back by public opinion in attempts to make changes. It had pencilled in a date of 2018 for bringing an end to cheque processing. But an intervention by the powerful Treasury Select Committee saw these plans scrapped and deadlines removed. MPs said a full abolition would leave the millions who rely on cheques – typically elderly people, charities and small businesses – without alternatives.

The Payments Council still wants to abolish cheques eventually, but must find a clear and palatable alternative before doing so.

The survey by payment processing firm WorldPay, which sourced the views of more than 5,000 people, will add weight to the arguments to phase out older payment methods.

Nearly two-thirds of those asked said that they already anticipate buying purchases regularly with a mobile phone, while half predicted that fingerprint recognition systems would soon be used to authorise payments at supermarkets and other major stores.

This follows a fingerprint trial in a supermarket chain in France, reported by the Telegraph last month, which involved 900 customers. Following the trial, 94pc of participants said they would be willing to use this payment option for all of their in-store purchases.

Respondents to the WorldPay survey anticipated retailers would soon use facial recognition or iris scanning technology, while others said they were keen for voice recognition to be the norm.

Geraldine Wilson, managing director of WorldPay, said: “Consumers are falling out of love with cash – 72pc of consumers now find card payments to be much more convenient; largely due to chip & Pin technology being trusted by both merchants and consumers alike.

“As new technologies continue to emerge, predictions about future methods of payment – from fingerprints to iris scans – are reflective of the fact that one in three people would simply feel much safer if they didn’t have to carry cash around with them anymore.”

In a set of recent forecasts, the Payments Council said the volume of cash transactions would tumble from the current 20.8 billion a year to less than 13.7 billion by 2022, while the use of debit cards will grow from 7.6 billion transactions to 13.8 billion as young people “habitually” turn to their plastic for every purchase they make.”

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