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Brits now spend more on debit cards than rustle or jingle money

Ballistic plastic shrinks nation's bulging wallets

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British shoppers are for the first time spending more on their debit cards than in cash, according to banks.

The 1.7 billion debit card transactions in the first eight months of this year were worth £272bn, compared to £269bn for cash, the Payments Council said today. Spending on plastic during the August bank holiday relegated cash to second place for the first time.

The gap is set to widen. In the third quarter, tills rang up £73.1bn on debit cards, up almost 11 per cent on the same period in 2009, with an extra 1.6 million transactions per day.

The payments industry expects the take-up of Oyster-style contactless debit cards to further draw consumers away from folding or jingling money.

"Cash is too cumbersome for many consumers these days - they prefer a card for anything more than the smallest transactions," said Payments Council spokeswoman Sandra Quinn.

"We now expect our debit cards to be accepted everywhere we go - in pubs and clubs, at the corner shop, online and on the high street."

The long decline of cheques also continued, with banks keen to phase out the relatively expensive-to-adminster system in 2018.

It's not all good news for the plastic-money biz, however, with credit cards declining in popularity. Total borrowing has remained static since 2005, and fallen when inflation is accounted for; meanwhile the number of cards in circulation has plummeted by 14 per cent to 60.7 million. ®

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