The rise of contactless payments

01 September 2015

From today payment terminals across the country are being updated to accept a new upper payment limit for contactless payments. The increase from £20 to £30 is being introduced in recognition of the growing popularity and success of contactless spending in the UK.

Graham Peacop, chief executive Officer of The UK Cards Association, said:

“Contactless payments are fast, easy and secure. With more contactless cards in wallets than ever before and a growing number of retailers accepting contactless payments, we have seen a huge rise in the number of payments being made.

“The growth in contactless payments shows people want to use contactless cards and increasing the limit gives customers even more opportunities to pay in this way.”

Eighteen months ago if you’d have purchased a coffee or got a few essentials from your local supermarket, the chances are you’d have paid with whatever note you had in your wallet or the loose change in your pocket. Fast forward eighteen months and the chances are that you’d pay using one of the 69 million contactless credit and debit cards in circulation1.  

Finding an outlet that accepted contactless used to be something of a challenge, but things have changed dramatically. The first nine months of 2014 saw more contactless transactions than the previous six years combined1, and it hasn’t stopped there. Contactless spending has continued to grow this year with spending rising from £287 million per month in January to £567 million per month by June1, proving that contactless transactions are not  a fad, in fact, they’ve taken off in a huge way.

Kevin Jenkins, managing director UK and Ireland at Visa Europe, said:

“Contactless is becoming the 'new normal' as everyday Britons embrace the speed, convenience and safety of touch-to-pay technology. We’ve seen unprecedented growth in this area, with the number of Visa contactless transactions more than trebling in the past year in the UK. Today’s threshold increase to £30 gives consumers all the benefits of contactless across a broader range of their daily activities, and we expect to see this momentum continue to build as more people adopt mobile and wearable payment technology.”

The rise of contactless payments benefits us all. Their growth in popularity is in no doubt down to its convenience and ease of use, two of the key ingredients needed to ensure consumer adoption. Previously, many consumers wouldn’t have thought to make a low-value payment by card, meaning if they didn’t have cash to hand they wouldn’t make the purchase. Now it’s much easier for them to pay, regardless of the amount. And from the traders perspective? Contactless payments are fast, meet customer expectations and reduce cash handling costs. It’s win, win and that’s why it’s catching on.