It’s human nature to want to know what the future will hold, so we make calculated estimates and, while we can be incredibly accurate, we will inevitably be off the mark at times. Back in 2013, we saw the birth of future monarch Prince George, mourned the loss of Nelson Mandela, experienced the resignation and appointment of the next pope and danced the Harlem Shake. But while we were scoffing fro-yo and learning how to take a selfie, what did the payments industry look like, and what was it going to look like in the coming years? We published a report in 2013 on what the payments industry would look like by the turn of the decade, including predictions made by consumers at the time.

Here we take a trip down memory lane to explore what consumers thought the payments industry would look like in 2020, and also make some predictions of our own for the coming decade.

A cashless society

Back in 2013 consumers were already predicting that cash would no longer be our primary form of payment method. So much so, that two-thirds (66%) of consumers believed it would be gone for good by 2020. Fast forward to the present, this prediction ran a bit hollow as evidently banknotes aren’t obsolete, but it’s by no means far off the mark especially with the current climate dropping cash usage down by over half of what it was last year.

We first caught a glimpse of the future of payments in 2018 when card payments overtook those made by cash by almost a quarter (16%) 11 billion payments, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any turning back. It’s predicted that cash transactions will continue to fall to fewer than 4 billion by 2028, accounting for 9% of all payments. And with recent environmental and political changes, technological advancements, and more stringent regulations put in place, not to mention a predicted cultural shift in consumer behaviours following COVID-19, it might not be long before that prediction becomes a reality.

Consumers win the bet on contactless payments

The development of contactless payments has come a long way since 2013. Over the years we have seen card providers increase their capabilities to offer contactless payments, while mobile and ecommerce truly came into its own. It’s impressive then that consumers were looking to these very methods as the ones that would be the most popular methods by 2020. Over half believed the future lay with contactless cards (54%), while mobile phones at the point-of-sale (52%) and mobile phones for online shopping (40%) closely followed.

Shoppers have quickly become comfortable and familiar with contactless payment methods, and by 2018, the number of contactless payments made had jumped by 31% to 7.4 billion payments. This was soon followed by a pledge from the UK card industry that every bank-issued payment terminal will be capable of accepting contactless payments.

Now looking towards the new decade it’s a certainty that the number of contactless payments will continue to increase, especially so after the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contact payments are on the way out and it will be interesting to see how contactless payments have evolved by 2030 and whether it will still remain the dominant form of payment for most.

Biometrics of the future

In 2013, almost a third of consumers believed biometric payments would be commonplace in 2020. We are not quite there yet, but it’s definitely making headway, especially with payment apps like Apple and Android pay. It was only reported at the tail end of last year, but UK bank, NatWest, announced a biometric payment technology for its commercial and business customers, allowing consumers to make payments through Apple Apple’s FaceID or TouchID. This goes to show the progression of biometrics in recent years, highlighting the tracks that are being laid for the future of biometrics.

While there is a lot of hype in the industry about how biometrics will take over contactless payments in the near future, it will be exciting to see the types of technology being developed in the coming years and the way it will change the way we make payments.


These were just some of the payment predictions in the 2013 report that turned out to be somewhat accurate. There are plenty more predictions (too many to cover in just one blog!), like the steep decline of cheques, so if you want to give the report a read for yourself then check it out here. Past predictions have clearly been quite accurate and now it has left us speculating what predictions we made this year will turn out to be true, especially with COVID-19 accelerating certain payment trends. The future of payments is always brimming with possibilities and we can’t wait to see what happens next.



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