Half of UK consumers think digital payments are making physical wallets irrelevant

Mastercard digital payment in the UK
PREFERENCE: 31% of 18-24 year olds say a digital wallet on their phone is their preferred payment method

Just over half of UK consumers believe that the growing popularity of digital payments is making physical wallets irrelevant (51%) and one in five say they do not expect to carry a wallet or purse within five years (21%), a figure that rises to 38% among millennials, according to a Mastercard survey.

The survey also shows that more than half of 18-24 years olds in the UK would prefer carrying their smartphone instead of a physical wallet or purse (55%) and that just under a third of that generation now identify the digital wallet on their phone as their preferred payment method (31%).

Some 41% of Generation Z respondents to the survey say that they don’t expect to ever buy a physical wallet or purse again, while across the whole UK adult population 49% say they only carry a physical wallet or purse because “it’s helpful to have their other cards, for example loyalty cards and driving licence”.

“The findings come as data points to a global increase in the adoption of digital payment methods. 93% of consumers will consider using alternative means of payment, including contactless, QR code, biometric payments and cryptocurrency transactions in the next year,” Mastercard says.

“This uptick in digital coincides with the continuing downward trajectory of cash usage in the UK — a decade ago around 60% of payments were made in cash, and UK Finance estimates that this figure will fall to 6% by 2031.”

A Post Office survey published in October revealed that one in three UK consumers would stop using a physical wallet altogether if they no longer had to carry physical ID.

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