Cashless society? Rural and older consumers join cashless payments revolution, finds Hitachi Capital

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Rural and older communities are as ready to join the cashless payments revolution as their younger and city-dwelling counterparts, new research from Hitachi Capital (UK) PLC has found.

While studies have found a technological divide between rural and city communities, Hitachi Capital UK’s research of 2,000 UK consumers shows that individuals polled across rural areas have been able to bridge the gap when it comes to cashless payment habits.

Over half of those living rurally (55%) now feel prepared for the transition to a cashless society. Interestingly, seven out of 10 (70%) of those in rural areas are more comfortable using cashless payments since the lockdown began – more than those in urban areas (66%).

More broadly, over two thirds (68%) of consumers are now more accepting of making cashless payments since the COVID-19 outbreak, while around half (52%) feel prepared for a transition to a largely cashless life.

With health concerns of using cash under lockdown, the research also found one in ten consumers going contactless for the first time.

Across the age groups, two thirds (66%) of over 55s feel more comfortable in using cashless payments since lockdown began. The research shows they aren’t far behind younger counterparts, as 16-24 year olds were only slightly more comfortable making cashless payments (67%). Those aged 35-44 years old came out on top (72%), followed by 25-34 year olds (70%) and 45-54 year olds (69%). 

However, prevailing concerns about the shift in using alternative payment methods will need to be addressed as more non-essential retail businesses welcome back customers. This was particularly clear amongst the over 55s, with the biggest cashless concerns being fraud (42%), cashless payments acceptance availability (31%) and dealing with technical issues (30%).

Vincent Reboul, MD of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, commented on the results: “Out of necessity, consumers across all demographics have become more comfortable buying online or making contactless payments and turning away from cash.

“Our research shows that across age groups and different areas of the country we’re experiencing a seismic shift towards a cashless society, even in rural areas, which was previously a concern. During lockdown consumers have become more adept at leading a predominately cashless life.

“As the high street starts to open up, this should give businesses the incentive to launch or expand their e-commerce channels and invest in direct delivery models to adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour.

“Retailers who can successfully replicate the in-store experience online and create a seamless end to end journey will complement the greater willingness and confidence amongst consumers to make payments by more technologically advanced means.”