The cost of taking cash payments is causing British businesses to embrace a wider range of payment options, according to a study by Sage Pay.

The research, which surveyed 1,124 business leaders, showed that UK retailers spend £17.8 billion a year on cash payments due to accounting errors.

Businesses said they lost money due to security costs, counterfeit notes and theft, with 52% of the respondents saying that cash carries the most accounting inaccuracies of all the payment methods they use.

Sage also polled 1,042 consumers, finding that 36% would be more likely to shop with retailers that offer a range of payment methods, and 31% will put items back if their preferred method of payment is not accepted.

A third of business – and almost a third of consumers – believe that the UK will soon be a cashless society.

Simon Black, chief executive of Sage Pay, told The Telegraph:

“We’re living through a payments revolution. Just as many find cheques alien now, for the next generation, the notion of cash will seem strange.”

Digital wallets, prepaid cards, “omnichannel” retail and contactless payments will be crucial to the success of retailers over the next few years, according to Sage.

29% of the businesses surveyed said that they thought cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will play an important role in future payment options for consumers.

Photo by JC Bauer