RIP loose change: we now use cashless payments more than notes and coins

Contactless cards
This sight is becoming more common.

We've reached a tipping point with cashless payment systems like smartphones, credit cards and direct bank transfers - new figures show they overtook cash payments for the first time in the UK during 2014.

52% of our transactions are now made without any physical money changing hands, and the trend is only going one way. You're more likely to be hunting down the back of the sofa for your smartphone than a fiver these days.

That figure is courtesy of the Payments Council and measures all payments made by consumers, businesses and financial organisations throughout the course of the year.

Cash in hand

However, when businesses are taken out of the equation, cash is still the most popular choice for consumers - 52% of our transactions in 2014 were carried out with those old-fashioned notes and coins.

The debit card (24%) was the second-most popular payment method. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why LINK is reporting a new cash machine peak of 69,382 ATMs across the country - and they're still nowhere to be found when you need one.

It's expected that the scales will tip in favour of cashless payments at the consumer level too, sometime this year or next, though it'll be many years before cash disappears from the scene completely.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.