Plastic revolution gains momentum

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Plastic revolution gains momentum

The UK is leading the move away from cash and cheques in favour of paying with plastic, the credit-card giant Visa said yesterday. Britons used 40 million Visa cards to spend pounds 76bn last year - up 25 per cent on 1995. Visa said the UK was its largest European market and now accounted for two-fifths of all its cards in Europe.

The figures bode well for Visa's plans to begin trials of a hi-tech "electronic purse" in Leeds in October. Visa Cash, a plastic card with an electronic chip which "stores" money, will allow people to buy low- cost items such as soft drinks and magazines without the need for carrying change. Visa has several banks involved and hopes to issue cards to 70,000 people.

The plan is to extend the scheme to the rest of the country later.