According to a study conducted earlier this year by UK Finance, just one in ten adults in the UK now opts to only use cash, with the rapid with the rapid growth of contactless payment and decline in the number of ATMs leading many to predict that the UK may become a cashless society in the next few years.

However, although some may be concerned about the prospect of going cashless, with a study conducted by consumer watchdog Which? revealing that 25 million people in the UK may be negatively affected by the move towards a cashless society, many are also worried about the possibility of a cardless society.

Cardless concerns

According to the Payment Systems Regulator has compiled in its 2018 Contactless Mobile Payments report, 24% of people in the UK now use their smartphone to make payments.

However, despite the growth in popularity of Apple and Android Pay, research by IDEX Biometrics ASA has revealed three quarters of UK consumers are concerned about no longer having access to a physical debit or credit card and instead having to rely on mobile payments. This indicates that the idea of a cardless society may worry UK consumers more than a cashless one.

For 37% of consumers, the thought of a cashless society doesn’t bother them if they still had a debit card, with 53% of 25-34-year-olds not concerned providing they still have a bank card.

Despite this increase in the popularity of smartphone payments, consumers are still reluctant to make it their only payment method. 60% of respondents would not give up their debit card in favour of mobile payments. This confirms findings from UK Finance that many consumers favour a “pick-and-mix” approach to payments, with many choosing to use a combination of mobile banking, cardless mobile payments and contactless card payments,.

Mobile payment security

The main reason behind this is distrust in the security of mobile payments, with 68% stating they felt more secure using their debit card than a mobile payment and half worried that contactless payments are insecure.

58% worried also that if they lost their mobile phone, people would be able to access their bank accounts.

This concern over mobile payments may be somewhat justified. Application security company Arxan examined 30 popular finance apps, and found that 97% lacked binary code protections and 80 had weak encryption.

However, IDEX Biometrics’s survey suggests that the incorporation of biometrics into the payment process may increase trust. 41% said that they would trust the use of their fingerprint to authenticate payments more than a PIN.

According to a study by Goode Intelligence, 2.6 billion people around the world will use biometric payments by 2023, and the level of security offered by biometrics may mean that it is incorporated into payment cards of the future.

Future proofing payment cards

David Orme, SVP of IDEX Biometrics ASA believes that rather than focusing solely on the prospect of a cashless society, the financial service industry should also turn its attentions to ensuring payment cards meet the needs of the next generation:

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“With UK consumers showing their continued attachment to bank cards, it’s time for the financial services industry to future-proof payment cards for the next generation. Customers are still sceptical about mobile payment apps but, given their security concerns, they also require more protection than a PIN currently provides.

“This shows that there is clear demand for payment cards that provide the convenience of contactless payments with the added security of biometric fingerprint authentication. As the owner’s fingerprint needs to be present for biometric payment cards to work, reliable bank cards enhanced with biometric technology will prevent misuse and card fraud. This will bring reassurance to all consumers as the UK continues to progress towards a cashless society.”


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