SPENDING on contactless cards more than trebled over the last year to reach a record £2.32 billion in 2014, new industry figures for the UK show.
Consumers typically made ten such payments – using a card that can be waved over a reading device – every second throughout 2014, with contactless cards being used a total of 319.2 million times last year, the UK Cards Association said.
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The latest figures show contactless tap-and-go payments have now “firmly stepped into the mainstream”, the association said.
Year-on-year, annual spending rose by 255 per cent, from £653.4 million of contactless payments in 2013. Spending on contactless cards last year was more than double the total of £857.2m spent using contactless cards in the previous six years combined.
Such cards can be used to pay for items worth up to £20 and do not require the use of a personal identification number, or Pin.
There are now 58 million contactless cards in circulation in the UK, 52 per cent more than in December 2013. People using contactless spend £8.26 per transaction on average.
The figures – released as separate data from Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK – revealed that Bristol has seen the most significant increase in contactless usage in 2014, compared with Britain’s other major cities.
Barclaycard said that contactless payments in Bristol saw 150 per cent growth between 1 January and 31 December last year. London saw the second biggest upswing in such transactions, recording a 130 per cent increase over the same period.
London leads the way when it comes to overall contactless use, according to Barclaycard’s figures. Nearly one in three (30.1 per cent) of card transactions taking place last year in London was contactless, according to Barclaycard’s data.
London was closely followed by Leeds, where the proportion of transactions on cards which were contactless was 27.3 per cent. In Cambridge, this figure was 14.9 per cent, in Oxford it was 14 per cent and in Manchester it was 13.6 per cent.
Barclaycard found that the average UK contactless user was on average 43 years old. Manchester has the youngest average user age at 39 while Blackpool and Oxford have the oldest at 45 years old.
Richard Koch, head of policy at the UK Cards Association, which is the trade body for the card payments industry, said: “Contactless has now firmly stepped into the mainstream.
“With usage soaring every month last year, we’ve seen people flocking to contactless payments as they switch away from cash.
“For retailers, contactless means quicker queues at the tills and greater convenience for their customers.”
From buying a coffee or a pint of beer to posting a parcel or travelling, the growing list of places that accept contactless payments includes Aldi, Barnardo’s, Boots, Superdrug, Costa Coffee, Greggs, Ikea, JD Wetherspoon, Lidl, London Buses, London Tubes, M6 Toll, Marks and Spencer, McDonald’s, the Post Office, Stagecoach, Waitrose and WH Smith.
Transport for London launched contactless payments across its network in the capital last September.
New technology is increasingly making it easier to pay in ways which do not involve reaching for your wallet at all.
Paym, the cross-industry mobile payments scheme which enables people to send payments as easily as texting, recently said that nearly two million have now signed up to the initiative, which launched in April last year.
Wearable payments technology is also being developed.
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