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Over a third of UK’s online transactions used digital wallets

Mobile phone-based digital wallets are fast becoming a preferred method of buying goods and services online

Digital transactions worth about £259bn were made in the UK last year, with over a third (35%) of online purchases completed using digital wallets.

The Worldpay from FIS global payments report 2023 also revealed that 10% of total point of sale (POS) transactions in the UK were made using digital wallets.

Digital wallets are apps which enable customers to make payments using their mobile phones. These apps are offered by companies including fintechs such as PayPal, tech giants Apple and Google, and banks.

PayPal is the most used digital wallet in the UK, according to the report.

Globally, these wallets accounted for a 49% share of e-commerce spending, accounting for $18tn in consumer spending. Digital wallet use globally is expected to increase 15% at POS and 12% for online transactions through to 2026. The report predicted that by then, digital wallets will account for 54% of online payments and 43% of PIS payments.

Pete Wickes, general manager for EMEA at Worldpay Merchant Solutions at FIS, said that while the threat of a global economic slowdown may have hampered consumer spending, e-commerce continued to grow last year.

“Innovation in payment solutions is running at a hot pace right now, greatly improving the experience for customers, reducing headaches for merchants and unlocking new avenues for growth,” he said. “Meeting consumer demand for advanced payments features now can help businesses thrive through economic troubles, while potentially gaining market share from competitors.”

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There is scope for digital wallets suppliers to grow the share of spending, according to Juniper. In a recent report, it said mobile wallet suppliers will increasingly include buy now, pay later (BNPL) offerings, as well as the ability to use cryptocurrencies.

In fact, a recent Juniper report predicted the value of digital wallet payments will be more than $12tn in 2026, as more payment types are added. This will amount to a 60% rise over 2022, when $7.5tn is expected to be transacted on digital wallets, which sit on smartphones.

Total e-commerce spending in the UK was also boosted by BNPL transactions, which accounted for 8% of the total, according to the report. It found that as consumers look to better manage their finances as costs bite, BNPL increased its share of e-commerce transaction value by 33% compared with 2021.

The Worldpay from FIS global payments report 2023 said credit cards and debit cards accounted for 29% and 47% of in-store point of sale payments in the UK last year. It also revealed a plummeting use of cash since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the proportion of in-store payments made using cash at 10% compared with 21% in 2019.

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