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Contactless cards reach new record

News, 24 August 2016

LONDON: Contactless payment cards are becoming ever more popular in the UK, as a new report has shown that they were used to make more payments in the first half of this year than in all of 2015.

According to the UK Cards Association, British shoppers spent £9.27bn via 1.1bn contactless transactions between January and June compared with £7.75bn last year.

As of June, contactless payments accounted for 18% of all card spending, and in a sign of how quickly the new technology is being adopted, that compares to just 7% in June 2015.

"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," said Richard Koch, Head of Policy at the UK Cards Association.

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

The report comes as a separate survey from Worldpay, the payment processing firm, revealed that one-third of UK shoppers believe cash will become obsolete by 2020 and that 40% use contactless payments a few times a week, Retail Times reported.

A higher limit of £30 on contactless payments was introduced last year, but Worldpay found that 37% of consumers would like the ceiling to be raised again.

That is an opinion shared by almost half (45%) of consumers in London, where contactless payments are common, especially on the capital's public transport network.

And in a noteworthy finding for retailers, the report also revealed that a quarter of consumers say they avoid shops that don't take cards while about a third (30%) say they only use cash when they absolutely have to.

James Frost, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer at Worldpay, warned retailers that they will need to adapt to the new technology or pay the price.

"The growing popularity of tap and go is a trend that all retailers will need to embrace or risk losing relevance," he said.

Data sourced from UK Cards Association, Retail Times; additional content by Warc staff