Contactless card transactions top 2015 in first half of year

The rise in availability of contactless payment cards and the point-of-sales devices to use them has shot up in the last year. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The rise in availability of contactless payment cards and the point-of-sales devices to use them has shot up in the last year. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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A growing number of shoppers are using contactless cards for payments – with the value of contactless transactions this year already topping the level seen in the whole of 2015.

Some £9.27 billion was spent using contactless methods between January and June of this year, new figures from The UK Cards Association show, more than the total 2015 contactless spend of £7.75 billion.

Contactless card payments accounted for 18 per cent of total purchases in June – 11 per cent higher than the same time the previous year.

In total, there were 1.1 billion contactless transactions in the first half of the year, compared to 1.05 billion for the whole of 2015.

Leigh Sparks, professor of Retail Studies at Stirling University, said that contactless was becoming more popular as people looked to alternatives to carrying cash and to slower card payments, but pointed to last September’s increase in the maximum payment level from £20 to £30.

He said: “The maximum amount a contactless card can be used for increased in the past year, which has to be taken into account in these figures as some of it will be existing customers spending more on their contactless cards rather than new adopters, but there is no doubt it is growing.

“People are so used to using cards everywhere now that there are fewer fears over security.”

The average contactless transaction was £8.60 in both May and June of this year, while more than three quarters of total retail sales use credit or debit cards of some form, the report found.

Both spending and the number of payments on all debit and credit cards increased in the second quarter of the year, with 92 million more purchases and £1.9 billion more spending than in the first three months of 2016.

Richard Koch, head of policy at The UK Cards Association, said: “Contactless cards are firmly entrenched as the preferred way to pay for millions of consumers, who expect to be able to use them for everyday purchases.

“We anticipate the use of contactless cards will continue to increase, particularly as charities and transport operators outside London recognise the benefits this technology can bring.”

Earlier this year, Britain’s five main bus operators – Stagecoach, First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express – announced they were working on a joint project to roll out contactless payment for bus tickets across Britain.