Consumers in the United Kingdom made 13.2 billion payments via debit card in 2017, compared with 13.1 billion using cash.
A total of 13.2 billion debt card payments were made last year, a rise of 14% on the previous year, according to banking trade body UK Finance. The number of cash transactions fell by 15% to 13.1bn transactions in the same period.
Debit card payments have overtaken cash use for the first time, new figures show, as contactless technology takes a firm hold on day-to-day spending.
UK Finance forecast that contactless payments would account for a third of all transactions by 2027. This was most commonly used in supermarkets, but card suppliers say that public transport and vehicle parking have also become regular spots for the use of contactless cards.
The body's UK Payment Markets report said 5.6 billion contactless payments were logged for both credit and debit cards a year ago - a rise of 97% on 2016 - with people aged between 25 and 34 the most frequent users.
As the saying goes, "cash is king".
Gareth Shaw of the consumer group Which? said: "Clearly the way we shop and pay for services is changing but for millions of people in the United Kingdom cash still plays an essential role in their everyday lives".
An estimated 3.4 million people hardly used cash at all during the year.
By the end of 2017 there were almost 119m contactless cards in circulation, with 78% of debit cards and 62% of credit cards in Britain having contactless functionality.
Yet despite the fall, cash remains the second most frequently used payment method, accounting for just over a third (34%) of all payments.
Adrian Buckle, head of research at UK Finance, told The Telegraph that the previous year had seen a substantial uptake of contactless cards in the over-65 age bracket.
Cash use is expected to continue to fall in popularity over the coming decade. Only 15% of the 38.8 billion payments made in the United Kingdom in 2017 were for regular bills and commitments.
Stephen Jones, the body's chief executive, said: "The choice of payment options available in the United Kingdom is allowing people to choose to pay the way that best suits them".
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