Contactless uptake in UK dooms charity cash donations

19. November 2017.

The switch to contactless cards in the U.K. comes at a cost to the beneficiaries of charity, a new study shows. Nearly 2 in 5 adults polled in the study said they give less to street collectors than they used to simply because they carry less cash than they used to.

In the nationwide survey by Consumer Intelligence, 37 percent of respondents who regularly donate money to panhandlers said they have cut back in the past year — on average, donating 14 pounds ($18.48) less than they did the previous year.

Consumer Intelligence research has shown a rapid move away from cash, with 58 percent of adults saying they use less cash now than they did a year ago.

This trend is accelerating among younger people — 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed said they use less cash than a year ago — and even senior adults are changing their habits, with 49 percent also saying they had cut back on cash.

Just one-third of consumers polled said they preferred cash for purchases of less than 30 pounds ($39.60) — the upper limit for contactless cards — while 39 percent preferred contactless payment; 27 percent preferred chip and PIN; and 3 percent preferred other methods.

However, cash is still important to charities: According to the U.K. Charities Aid Foundation, cash remains the most popular method of donating to charity, with 55 percent of donations coming in notes and coins.

“Contactless is convenient and secure so it is understandable that so many are happy to ditch cash,” Consumer Intelligence Chief Executive Ian Hughes said in the release. “But there must be some concern that it is hurting charities with so many people admitting they have cut donations simply because they do not carry cash.

“Technology can help however and charity collectors need to adapt. The Church of England is trialing contactless technology for collections, so it can be done.”

The Consumer Intelligence study found that approximately only 10 percent of U.K. adults still carry 50 pounds ($66) or more in cash on a day-to-day basis.

For the survey, Consumer Intelligence polled 1,050 U.K. adults (18 or older) on Aug. 7.

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