Over half of UK consumers have tried a new payment method since the outbreak of Covid-19

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As the face of UK retail has changed in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, so too has how people pay for goods and services, according to research conducted by specialised payments platform Paysafe.

In the company’s latest ‘Lost in Transaction’ survey, in which 8,000 consumers globally were asked about their payment habits, findings revealed that 54% of UK consumers have used new forms of payments since the Covid-19 outbreak began, and 84% of respondents globally admitted they were now thinking differently about how they make payments.

Since the UK’s countrywide lockdown started and most high street shops closed their doors, not surprisingly online shopping has seen a huge surge in adoption, quickly becoming the new normal. Nearly half of UK consumers (43%) say they have increased their online shopping habits because of restricted access to high street stores, and just over one fifth (21%) have tried online shopping for the first time. 

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When it comes to cash, media reports suggesting it may aid the spread of disease has resulted in a shift in its usage, along with the fact that it is no longer permitted as a form of payment by certain retailers which are still operating. Last month Link, the UK’s biggest network of ATMs, announced cash usage in Britain has halved as consumers pursue alternative payment methods.

Nearly two thirds (63%) of UK consumers surveyed said they will be using contactless payment technology more in the short term due to health and safety concerns, and 61% say they are happier using contactless now than they were last year.

The current restrictions imposed on society could be enough to introduce alternative payment methods to the masses. The research showed a marked increase in the popularity of digital wallets such as Skrill since the beginning of the pandemic, with 12% of UK consumers using them for the first time to make an online payment.

Daniel Kornitzer, Chief Business Development Officer at Paysafe, comments: “Our latest ‘Lost in Transaction’ research shows that consumers are already adapting to challenges in purchasing and getting to grips with alternative payment methods. Both payment providers and retailers must adapt in line with the demands of consumers and the requirements of the situation. Ultimately, the change and improvements we make to digital commerce throughout this pandemic will pave the way for the future of both digital and in-store payments.”

Other findings from the global research included almost half (48%) of consumers being worried about handling cash at the moment (ranging from 56% in Canada to 37% in Austria), while only 27% are not.

Just 28% of Britons and 22% of Canadians and are currently using cash to make payments. 42% of Canadians are only using contactless payment methods (average is 30%). Consumers in Bulgaria (71%), Germany (51%) and Austria (43%) are more likely to still be using cash.

Meanwhile, just under half (48%) of consumers say they will be reducing the amount of cash they handle in the future due to health and safety concerns. Less than one in four (24%) say they won’t be. Again, Canadians demonstrate the strongest anti-cash feelings, while Austrians are the most pro-cash.

In addition, 55% of consumers say they will be using contactless more in the short term due to health and safety concerns. There is a big gap in agreement/disagreement between the US (60%)/UK (63%)/Canada (66%) and DACH (Germany 38%, Austria 43%). Bulgaria and Italy sit in the middle.

Similar percentages agree that using contactless more during Covid-19 has made them more comfortable using contactless in the future. Slightly lower but significant numbers of consumers are now also more comfortable with the idea of a contactless society.

Across the board, people (56%) are happier to use contactless cards than they were last year. In the UK this was 61%, the highest in any of the countries surveyed. Austria was lowest at 46%.

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.