Spending using debit cards has overtaken the amount spent in cash over the past decade.

UK consumers splashed out £264bn last year via debit cards – quadruple the amount spent in 1999 and more than was spent using coins and notes.

A new study by the Payments Council found that just 59% of all transactions last year were made using cash – down from 73% a decade previously.

The body said cash was “king no more” and identified contact-free cards – such as London Transport’s Oyster card – as the future. Eight million cards in the UK currently allow contactless payment - a number the council estimated would grow to 30 million by 2012.

"By 2050, contactless could well be the norm, but it is unlikely to be on a plastic card and could very well be on a mobile phone," the report said.

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