For the first time ever the use of debit cards has exceeded the use of cash. In the year to September consumers spent £269 billion in cash but £272 billion on their debit cards.
As we now expect even the smallest of retail outlets to accept cards for just about every payment as well as finding cash cumbersome (and sometimes risky) to carry the arrival of the cashless society moves ever closer. The number of UK debit card holders has increased from 40 million four years ago to 43.1 million today.
The use of the cheque book has also been declining rapidly over the last few years with 104 million fewer being written over the year to September.
With technology now allowing the use of contactless cards which you can just wave over a sensor to make a payment, the use of cash will become less and less attractive to consumers over time. There are now already 9.6 million of these types of debit and credit cards in use.
Some though will still view this type of technology with suspicion and still put cash as king.
How far we have come in the last three or four decades. For example, sailors in Her Majesty's Royal Navy were still paid over the table fortnightly on a Thursday in cash in the 1970s. Just as many workers queued up for their wage packets in cash every Friday.
Now virtually every worker is paid electronically, mostly it seems by enforced choice – the choice is which bank do you put it in.
This move to electronic payment of wages was a coup for the banks. No more balancing cash amounts and having to settle some of the fractional reserve on a weekly basis. All done on the claims of minimising cost and efficiency. Has it actually ended up that way?
There is also the strange result that employers are actually giving your money away to another legal entity. Yes the word is giving. Under case law when money is passed to a bank that money becomes the bank's property. They just owe you the money. So if they go under you lose your money. So in fact you are being forced to lend your money to the bank. Think about that.
I wonder how long it will be before someone comes up with a realistic plan for the installation of microchips in people to store their electronic money and personal details all under the guise of efficiency and identity / data protection?
Count me out of that one. Gold and silver may be bulky but they are worth more than a microchip any day!