New Research by Paul Hastings Shows Non-Cash Payments Across U.S. and UK to Soar by 2026

December 14, 2016

London -– The value of non-cash payments in the US and UK will reach $46 trillion and £1.44 trillion respectively by 2026, new research from leading global law firm Paul Hastings shows today.

In the US, this is a 36% increase on 2016’s figure of $33 trillion, with there being 221 million contactless mobile payment users within a decade.

In the UK, this is a 26% increase on 2016’s figure of £1.14 trillion, with there being 19.1 billion contactless transactions per year within a decade.

The research, conducted in association with the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) and YouGov, examined current attitudes of businesses and consumers towards alternative payments and their potential use of future payment methods.

Further 2026 forecasts from the UK research include;

  • US: 76% of all transactions will be non-cash transactions, up from 63% today; UK: 68% of all transactions will be non-cash transactions, up from 55% today

  • US: 82% of businesses will accept alternative payment methods; UK: 74% of businesses will accept alternative payment methods

These findings are contained within the Paul Hastings report The Future of Payments”. The report compares the landscape in the UK and the US, two leading jurisdictions for the Payments sector, highlighting many similarities and several striking differences, such as the significantly more favourable regulatory environment in the UK and European Union.

The research also identified the biggest barriers to growth of payment technology, revealing that 48% of consumers in the US and 53% in the UK said that a reduced risk of fraud is the feature they would most like to see in alternative payment methods – more so than accessibility, customer service or competitive rates of interest.

Thomas Brown, partner Global Banking & Payment Systems practice at Paul Hastings, based in the San Francisco office, said:

“The challenge for payment service providers is to create reasons for consumers to use new methods and technologies to make payments.  As things stand, consumers see little value in changing how they make payments in most environments apart from novelty value and the gratification of being an ‘early adopter’.”

Ben Regnard-Weinrabe, partner in the Global Banking & Payment Systems practice at Paul Hastings, based in the London office, said:

“We have a fantastic array of new payment methods at our fingertips, whereas once the options were limited to cash, cheques, card, and bank transfer. You can leave your payment card at home, and pay contactless through Android, Samsung or Apple Pay; if you shop online you may use PayPal, paysafecard or Zapp  instead of to MasterCard or Visa; if you want an alternative to your mobile banking app, perhaps you’ll use Money Dashboard or Mint; and for electronic payments that are just like paying by cash - instant and anonymous – bitcoin and other emerging digital currencies are an option.”

Thomas Brown continued:

“Obviously contactless cards can save time compared to chip and pin credit cards, and the benefits of all methods over cash and cheques are clear, but consumers do not yet see the benefits of more advanced forms of payment. Other rapidly adopted new technologies – Airbnb, Uber, and Spotify for example – have obvious advantages in cost, convenience, or human engagement. Payment methods don’t appear to have enough of the same advantages.”

Ben Regnard-Weinrabe continued:

“Nonetheless, as this paper shows, there are still challenges to the success and adoption of emerging  payment methods. They include a need to continue building customer trust in new technologies, and a regulatory framework that is having to respond fast to the changing dynamics of the market and emerging cybersecurity threats in a way that, hopefully, will not have a detrimental effect on the user experience or impose unnecessary barriers to new entrants.”


Notes to Editors:

About Paul Hastings (Europe)

Paul Hastings’ payments group has developed the premier practice of advising banks, card associations, processors, bill payment companies, and others on the rapidly evolving world of electronic payments. We are uniquely positioned to advise clients in this rapidly developing space thanks to our, unparalleled regulatory knowledge, global reach, payment technology expertise, and experience shaping the landscape for payment regulation. The Firm is ranked in Band 1 for Payments Law in Chambers UK.

At Paul Hastings, our purpose is clear — to help our clients and people navigate new paths to growth. With a strong presence throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., Paul Hastings is recognized as one of the world’s most innovative global law firms

About Centre for Economics & Business Research

For 20 years the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has supplied independent economic forecasting and analysis to hundreds of private firms and public organisations. Our predictions have a strong track record of forecasting accuracy at international, national and even company level, placing us consistently in the top handful of UK economics teams and winning us awards and headlines. We are still growing strongly despite on-off UK recession and weak trading conditions and our clients grow with us.


The findings in the report are based on a combination of desk research and original survey work. The survey work was carried out by YouGov and includes four separate surveys – US consumers, UK consumers, US businesses, and UK businesses. For the survey of US consumers the work was carried out from March 22-23, 2016 with a sample size of 1,102 adults. The UK consumer survey was carried out from March 21-22, 2016 with a sample size of 2,093 adults. In both cases, the figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+). The US business survey findings were produced based on a sample size of 616 senior decision makers. The research was carried out from March 22-29, 2016. The UK findings are based on research conducted from March 21-29,2016 with a sample size of 662 senior decision makers. For both countries, figures have been weighted and are representative of all business sizes.

Forecasts for the number of contactless payment users/transactions are based on current published trends and the data gathered in the survey regarding willingness to use such payment methods.  Bank branch forecasts are based on desk research into stated intentions of major commercial banks about maintaining physical branches. The forecasts also take into account assumptions about the rates of substitution between in-person and online banking.

Research into the share of businesses accepting alternative payment methods relies on survey work which asks business leaders in the UK and the US about their current payments methods and intentions for the future. The figures relating to noncash transactions as a share of total transactions are a function of recent trends but also consider the other forecast in the report, such as contactless uptake and the prevalence of alternative payment methods among businesses.

The noncash transaction values refer to the use of debit and credit cards as well as cheques. Use of other noncash payment systems which are primarily reserved for high value financial transactions e.g. automated clearing house are excluded.

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