UK contactless spending up 2.6 times in 2015, Barclaycard data shows

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The number of ‘touch and go’ contactless transactions made by Barclaycard’s UK customers more than trebled in 2015*, thanks in part to the raising of the spending cap to £30, new data shows. The news comes as industry body, UKCA, reveals that monthly contactless spend passed the £1bn milestone for the first time in November.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all credit and debit card transactions in the UK, saw the value of spending using contactless technology soar 164% compared to 2014 figures and  volume also shoot up 135%, as consumers increasingly enjoy the speed and ease of ‘touch and go’ payments.

Contactless usage was given a boost in September last year when the maximum transaction value increased from £20 to £30, allowing shoppers to purchase goods and services with just a touch of their card or contactless device on a payment reader. As well as opening up new retail sectors to the technology, the new upper limit means that many every day purchases – such as the average cost of basket of groceries at £25** – can be covered in a single payment.

In addition, the average amount Barclaycard customers spend in each contactless transaction has increased 26 per cent, to £8.65, following the introduction of the £30 limit with more than a quarter (27 per cent) of active Barclaycard customers*** now using contactless each month.

The national picture

Overall, London continues to lead the way for contactless usage, with more than four in 10 (41%) of all transactions of £20 and under now being made with contactless. Usage in the capital city is largely accounted for by the increase in popularity of contactless travel on London’s tubes, trains and buses. Yet with contactless ticketing being looked at by other cities across the UK, it may not be long before the rest of the country catches up.

City Contactless usage****
London 41%
Cambridge 26%
Northampton 24%
Bristol 23%
Southampton 23%
Oxford 23%
Leeds 22%
Birmingham 21%
Liverpool 20%
Cardiff 20%

The growth in contactless usage by Barclaycard customers underlines its leading role in contactless technology, having introduced it into the UK in 2007 and remaining at the forefront of its continued rollout to consumers and retailers, such as Waitrose, ever since.

In June 2016 Barclaycard will celebrate its 50th anniversary, marking fifty years of allowing consumers and businesses to make and take payments simply and easily. From introducing the first credit card to the UK in 1966, to launching Chip & PIN and wearables – to providing the technology to allow commuters to pay contactlessly for travel on London’s tubes, trains and buses  – Barclaycard has a played an integral role in developing many new payment innovations which have changed the way we shop for goods and services.

Last week Barclaycard became the first financial services brand to allow customers to make contactless payments on their Android phone, by expanding the functionality of its mobile app to include the ability to make payments for up to £100 without the need to use a card. Barclaycard customers using this new feature can now make contactless payments for transactions up to £30, and for the first time, can also make high-value contactless payments of up to £100 by entering their PIN on their mobile device.

As part of this roll-out of mobile contactless payments, Barclaycard also introduced an ‘instant card replacement’ feature to its Android app, enabling customers to have a lost or stolen card replaced immediately on their mobile phone. Customers simply report their card as lost, stolen or damaged by calling the contact centre for free from the Barclaycard app and the virtual replacement card will be instantly downloaded for immediate use. A plastic card replacement will then follow in the post.

Tami Hargreaves, commercial director, digital consumer payments at Barclaycard, said: “Every second counts for today’s busy shopper and as our data shows, ‘touch and go’ payments are now the norm for an increasing number of everyday purchases. Whether it’s grabbing a coffee on the way to work – or stocking up on groceries on the way home – the speed and ease of contactless means it’s now the preferred way to pay for shoppers across the country.  As the old adage goes – ‘time is money’ and we expect contactless payments to continue to break new records throughout 2016.”