Lockdown has turbocharged the contactless revolution

Research also shows one in five people have turned to ‘money laundering’ – cleaning their cash due to concerns around Covid-19.


Brits have gone an average of 44 days without using cash as research reveals the nation has turned to contactless in droves during lockdown.

Customer data from Swindon-based Nationwide Building Society shows that tap-and-pay transactions have increased by 44 per cent since the week of March 23, when the UK was asked to stay at home.

Nationwide’s research, which polled more than 2,000 people, also shows that more than a quarter (27%) have gone two months or more without using notes and coins to pay for goods and services. For some, it’s even longer as nearly a third (32%) admit they don’t remember what they last bought with cash.

Despite six in ten (62%) people admitting to using cash less often since lockdown, this trend could outlast the outbreak. According to Nationwide’s research, half (50%) of respondents say they will use cash less in future. More than a third (35%) of this group say this is because they are worried about using cash as a result of Covid-19, while 61 per cent have started using other methods to make payments. More than a quarter (27%) are committed to doing more shopping online in the future.

When it comes to gender, some 68 per cent of women have reduced their use of cash since lockdown, compared to 56 per cent of men. Regionally, seven in ten (70%) residents in the South West admit their cash usage has decreased compared to just over half (51%) in London.

Payments aside, a third of Brits (33%) have used lockdown to try out mobile and online banking for the first time, while a quarter (25%) say this period had made them more comfortable with making mobile payments.

The research also shows one in five people (20%) have turned to ‘money laundering’ – cleaning their cash due to concerns around Covid-19. More than half (58%) have used anti-bacterial wipes, in excess of a third (35%) have done so in the sink with soap and water, while more than one in five (23%) have put their cash in the washing machine.

Mark Nalder, Nationwide’s Head of Payments, says: “As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, it is evident the pandemic could have a lasting impact on how people pay for things. Far from heralding the death of cash, a shift towards mobile payments and online and mobile banking will help people keep track of their spending and better manage their money. Although we don’t expect cash to return to pre Covid-19 levels, it is highly likely cash usage will increase post-lockdown as the high street begins to reopen, even if that means the use of card payments – via contactless, phone or another device – rise in tandem.”

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