UK online spending up 50 percent

Commerce is going digital. UK Internet shopping revenues increased by 50 percent last year - and for the first time consumers are buying more with plastic than with old-fashioned cash

UK online shopping revenues increased by 50 percent last year and for the first time, more goods and services will be bought using credit card and debit cards than cash, according to a report published by the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS) on Wednesday.

APACS's The Way We Pay report found that last year, online spending increased to £200m. Although this is still a fraction of overall spending, the figure is expected to grow over the coming years as Internet security improves and users gain confidence in e-commerce systems.

Consumers are only embracing online shopping, but are also increasingly keen to conduct all types of transaction via credit card rather than cash. Sandra Quinn, director of corporate communications at APACS, said this kind of progress has pushed Britain to the forefront of credit-card security technology.

According to the report, the number of payment cards being used grew by 9 percent to 160.6 million. This year, total plastic card use -- including business spending -- will top £269bn, against £268bn of cash payments. Next year, personal credit and debit cards alone are expected to overtake cash payments.

Surprisingly, even though plastic spending has increased, credit and debit card fraud actually fell for the first time in eight years. This is partly attributed to increasing security measures, such as the £1.1bn investment in Chip and PIN technology by UK card issuers.

"Our anti-crime measures lead the world. Chip and PIN is now rolling outcross the country and puts Britain ahead of any other nation when it comes to fighting card crime," said Quinn.

Earlier this week, Barclaycard issued 5,000 of its UK customers with hand-held credit and debit card readers that are designed to help prevent fraud and reduce exposure to phishing attacks.