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Contactless cards go mainstream

Contactless cards go mainstream

Category: Banking

Updated: 10/06/2016
First Published: 10/06/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

It seems that the contactless revolution is well and truly underway, with a new report from The UK Cards Association showing that more consumers are choosing to pay using this method than ever before.

The figures show that £7.75bn was spent using contactless cards in 2015, a massive jump from the £2.32bn figure of 2014, with much of that reflecting the increase in the payment limit to £30 and the growth of contactless transport ticketing, said the report.

However, it also highlights the fact that this way of paying is becoming firmly embedded in everyday spending, with contactless cards truly going mainstream. The number of contactless cards available has also seen a notable rise – albeit not to the same extent as the spending increase – with 49% of the cards in issue having this functionality by December 2015.

The revolution

It isn't only contactless cards themselves that are revolutionising the industry, either. The success of contactless ticketing throughout the Transport for London network is encouraging transport operators and local authorities across the country to emulate it, the report noted, while charities are working on contactless donation initiatives, too.

Card payments are now even being made without the need for physical cards, with devices such as smartphones and smartwatches allowing contactless payments (when suitably enabled, of course). The retail industry is innovating, too, with an increasing number of businesses now using mobile point of sale devices, allowing them to further adapt the way they serve customers and accept payments.

Card payments as a whole continue to rise in popularity, too, with more than one million businesses accepting card payments in 2015 and a total of £660bn spent on debit and credit card purchases over the year – an increase of 10% from 2014. Online card spending also rose, this time by 20% to stand at £210bn, up from £175bn in 2014. Furthermore, by the end of 2015 half of online spending took place on tablets and smartphones, up from 37% in 2014, which also means that almost a third of card spending now takes place online.

Graham Peacop of The UK Cards Association commented: "With the amount spent using contactless cards almost trebling between 2014 and 2015 and the payment limit increasing to £30, it is clear 2015 was the year contactless went mainstream. Whether buying a sandwich on the go, or paying for a round of drinks or a tube journey, contactless has become the default way people choose to pay for every day shopping.

"Consumers are increasingly using their cards, and especially their contactless cards, for smaller and smaller purchases. With such convenience and flexibility, payment cards will continue to play a central role in the future."

Indeed, it's predicted that debit cards will be used for 21 billion UK payments worth £856bn by 2025, and it's the next generation of account holders that are expected to be a major factor in this growth, with younger people more likely to embrace new technologies such as contactless cards and mobile payments.

But, whether you're young or old, everyone should be able to get involved with the revolution. Speak to your provider if you haven't yet got a contactless card, and if they don't offer it or you're not happy with any other aspect of their service, don't be afraid to switch – compare current accounts and see if you can find a better option that can take you and your card payments into the future.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.