Are physical wallets sliding into irrelevancy?


Over half (51%) of people in the UK think physical wallets will become less relevant as digital payments continue to grow, according to new Mastercard research.

Mastercard partnered with Central Saint Martins on the research to examine how wallets have changed over the last 100 years and how they might look in the foreseeable future.

The data in the study highlighted a considerable decline in physical wallets, with 21% saying they don’t expect to carry a wallet or purse within the next five years. This rose to 38% among Millennial respondents.

Up to 93% of consumers said they will consider using alternative means of payment, including contactless, QR code, biometric payments and cryptocurrency transactions in the next year.

A third – 31% of 18-24 year olds said that the digital wallet on their phone is their preferred way to way, compared to just 5% of those aged 55 and over. Meanwhile, 55% of 18-34 year olds would rather just carry their phone in place of a wallet or purpose and 41% of Gen Z said they do not expect to ever buy a physical wallet or purse again.

Close to half (49%) of respondents said they only carried their wallet or purse because its helpful to have their other cards such as drivers licence and loyalty card, while a third of UK adults said they don’t need to carry a wallet or purse at all.

A third (30%) of Brits say that the wallet or purse they have now is smaller than the one they had five years ago, and 33% say they would no longer look for a coin compartment when buying a wallet or purse. Up to 40% of people would want the smallest wallet or purse possible as they don’t have space to carry a big one in their pocket.

Mastercard president UK & Ireland Kelly Devine said, “We don’t often consider the impact that changing payment preferences have on the accessories we choose to buy and use. In contrast to a decade ago, many who still carry wallets are now seeing them more as a site of a personal archive rather than a vessel for physical cash and cards.

“As technology continues to evolve, wallets shrink, and people increasingly embrace digital methods of payment, our focus remains on delivering choice, convenience, and speed for people around the country.”

Australia-based Grapple, which offers working capital loans to SMEs, has reportedly collected $35m in a warehouse debt facility from Sydney-based financier Global Credit Investments (GCI).

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