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Credit cards come back as UK moves towards a cashless society

There has been significant growth in the acceptance of credit cards and contactless card payments by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), new research from East & Partners Europe shows.

Since 2012, the acceptance of credit card payments has entered something of a resurgence, growing its share of merchant payment volumes by a relative 39% from 14.6% to 20.3% today.

Over the same period, debit card payments have remained the most widely accepted form of payment by SME merchants, however it has seen a slight decrease from 61.2% to 57.9% of all payments received as credit’s share has grown.

Credit cards come back as UK moves towards a cashless society

Virtually all of this growth in credit card payments has been in acceptance of payment online, growing from 2.7% in 2012 to 8.9% in 2016. In the same period the acceptance of debit card payments online has only grown 0.3% to 1.4%, resulting in credit dwarfing debit in this channel by more than 6 times in size.

“It’s clear from our research with SME merchants in the UK that they are very willing to accept credit card payments online,” said Simon Kleine, Head of Client Services, East and Partners Europe.

“This growing willingness to accept credit payments for online purchases is driven by the increasingly competitive environment, and a recognition by online retailers of the need to compete by meeting their customers’ payment preference for paying by credit card.”

While credit has been experiencing this major growth in its acceptance by SMEs online, a new means of payment has established itself from almost nowhere in the form of contactless payments at terminal point of sale with High Street merchants.

East’s research shows that 8.2% of card transactions at the terminal are now contactless transactions, and forecast that this is on a trajectory to grow to 15% by the end of 2017.

The continued dominant acceptance of debit cards, upward trend of contactless payments and credit cards’ popularity online, have accompanied decline of both cash payments and cheque acceptance which now account for only 14% and 6.8% of all transactions respectively.

“As the convenience of cards increases, so too does their domination of the payments market, whether it be online or at point of sale. As such, it’s inevitable that the use of cash in the UK economy will continue to decline year-on-year,” said Kleine.

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